Australian teenager Maddison Elliott is a new global star in Para swimming. Not that it’s of any surprise – in London she won four medals at just 13 years old, making her the youngest Australian to ever win a Paralympic medal. Since then, she’s torn through the S8 class, and has established herself as that group’s star swimmer, despite being just 15 years old.
She took another big step in that direction on Friday night at the 2014 Para Pan Pac Championships in Pasadena, California when she won the women’s 100 backstroke in 1:18.71. That’s a new lifetime best for her, a new Australian Record.
It’s also a big hurdle cleared as she beat the defending Paralympic silver medalist Jessica Long, who took 2nd in 1:21.12. The retirement late last year of World Record holder Heather Frederiksen leaves Elliott and Long as the clear global favorites in this event, and Elliott will have the upper-hand when this event is added back into the IPC World Championships schedule in 2015 (it wasn’t raced in 2013).
Elsewhere in the women’s 100 back, New Zealand’s Mary Fisher won the women’s S11 free in a landslide with a 1:18.94. She was already the fastest in the world in this event in 2014, but this swim not only extends that margin, but gives her the fastest time we’ve seen since 2012 – the swim would have won gold in London. The S11 class is the beginning of the visually impaired classes, and is made up of athletes who are completely blind.
Brazil’s Daniel Dias tackled his tough double with seeming ease. First he won the S5 100 freestyle in 1:09.28, using a scorching front-half (34.14) to put the field away early. Dias won that race in 1:09.28, with American Roy Perkins Jr. earning silver in 1:18.68. That missed Perkins’ own World Record by a few tenths, but it is the fastest time in the world in 2014 – by seven seconds. He was well faster than the 1:17.05 that Spaniard Sebastian Rodriguez won with at the European Championships this week.
Dias then swam to his own stratosphere in the SB4 100 breaststroke, where he swam a 1:38.06 to win by 18 seconds. He didn’t come close to his World Record, but he had three things working against him on Friday. His focus has really turned away from the breaststrokes, he had no competition to push him, and he was on the back-end of a difficult double.
In the men’s S9 100 free, Australian Rowan Crothers, who set the World Record last week in Glasgow in this event, added about half-a-second. He still had plenty of room to win though in 55.09. That was part of an Australian 1-2-3 in the event, as Brenden Hall was 2nd in 57.01 and Matthew Cowdrey was 3rd in 58.01. Those three remain the top three ranked swimmers in the world, but none of them went best times in this meet (Hall and Cowdrey weren’t even close). That’s the first sign to the answer about questions of where the Australian men’s sprint group was at the Commonwealth Games – which is not a good sign for the likes of Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen as they head for Pan Pacs in two weeks.
The Australian men were dominant in that 100 freestyle. In the S3-S9 classes, they won every gold medal in which they were entered (there was nobody put up against Dias’ challenge in the S5 group). His biggest competition, if he chooses to resume competition in the event at Worlds next year, are Colombia’s Moises Fuentes Garcia, Spain’s Ricardo Ten, and Greece’s Antonios Tsapatakis. Ten was a 1:37.2 in Eindhoven this week to win the European title.
Elsewhere in that 100 free, American Brad Snyder won the S11 class in 57.31. That makes the U.S. Navy veteran the first swimmer in the class to go under a minute in this race since the 2012 Paralympic Games, where he won a monumental battle against China’s Yang Bozun.
The Mexican women took the title in the night’s first relay, the women’s 200 medley relay, in dominant fashion. That includes a fantastic anchor from S6 swimmer Susana Ribeiro, who split 37.05. Ribeiro previously won the women’s S6 50 free individually, and was half-a-second better on this relay.
As an S6, she cost Mexico an extra point, but that anchor split was well worth it. In the 20 point relay, the classifications of each swimmer are added up, and the total must be 20 or less.
The women’s 34-point relay came after that, and the Australian women, who are loaded in the pertinent S7-S10 classes, came away with a 5:02.05 second victory, beating the runner-up Americans (5:05.82).
The Australians led off with Ashleigh Cockburn, and followed her with Madeleine Scott. Scott split a 1:21.80, which was very important to the Australian effort as the butterfly leg was not the strength of their relay. While Maddison Elliott beat Jessica Long in the individual 100 backstroke, for this relay she shifted over to the butterfly leg. That’s where Long is at her best, and it’s not Elliott’s best stroke.
Elliott did go a respectable 1:15.26, to hold off a hard-charging 1:10 split from Long. Lakeisha Patterson anchored for Australia, and like Elliott just had to hold off her American counterpart, which this time was Michelle Konkoly. Konkoly was impressive in 1:02, but Patterson had plenty of room to get to the wall for the Australian win.
Canada took the bronze.
Full Meet Results available on Meet Mobile.
Other Event Winners on Day 3:
Men’s 50 backstroke
- 57-year old American para-sport legend Curtis Lovejoy added another title to his crowded trophy case, winning the men’s S2 S50 back in 1:17.0, better than halving the time of Russia’s Ivan Konovalov.
- Australian Grant Patterson won the men’s S3 50 backstroke in 59.09. That’s off of Australian National Record in the event of a 57.3, but in the last year Patterson’s focus has been more on the freestyle and IM events anyway.
- Mexico’s Juan Reyes won the S4 men’s 50 backstroke in 45.84. The Central and South Americans dominated that race and took all three podium spots – Reye’s countrymate Gustavo Sanchez (47.06) was 2nd and Brazil’s Ronystony Cordeiro (47.19) was 3rd – by a significant margin.
- American Roy Perkins Jr. won the men’s S5 50 backstroke in 44.93. He was only 3rd in this event in 2011,though his two competitors there Daniel Dias and Cameron Leslie, both of whom are the same age, skipped the race in 2014.
Women’s 100 backstroke
- American Breanna Sprenger was the only participant in the S1 women’s 100 backstroke, which she won in 4:33.98. That was just off of her prelims swim of 4:29.31, but both swims were far ahead of her seed.
- Moving up to the S6 class, Vianney Trejo from Mexico held true to her seed and won the women’s S6 100 back by six seconds. While the seed gap held, Trejo improved her seed time to 1:35.86. This was another Mexico 1-2 finish, with Doramitzi Gonzalez taking 2nd in 1:41.90. American 18-year old Reilly Boyt was 3rd in 1:42.50, and a third Mexican, talented 15-year old Valeria Lopez, was 4th.
- New Zealand’s Rebecca Dubber won the women’s S7 100 backstroke in 1:25.67, fighting off a huge drop from Paralympic bronze medalist in the event Corntey Jordan, who improved by five seconds from prelims. That siwm wasn’t quite Dubber’s season-best, but she very-nearly even-split the race, going 42.65/43.02. That back-half was the difference maker, as she trailed Jordan by a tenth of a second going into the turn.
- With no Ellie Cole (the defending Paralympic champion) entered, the Australian reigns to the women’s S9 100 backstroke were given to 15-year old Ashleigh Cockburn, who took them with gusto to win the event in 1:13.45. Despite Cole’s absence, this final was a vision of the future of this event, at least outside of the powerful Brits. American 14-year old Hannah Aspden was 2nd in 1:13.57, and American 18-year old Lizzi Smith was 3rd in 1:13.68. Those three now sit 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the event in 2014.
- Katherine Downie broke her own Australian Record in the S10 10o back, swimming a 1:09.50 to easily top Canada’s Aurelie Rivard. The best-finishing American was 3rd-place American Serafina King in 1:16.47, and Chile almost made an appearance on the podium as Francisca Castro Jr. was 4th in 1:18.98. That swim puts Downie 2nd in the world this year, only behind Canadian-turned-Dutch swimmer Summer Mortimer, though the last-minute withdrawl of New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe from this meet was felt in the final.
- Anabel Moro won the women’s S12 100 back in 1:24.77, beating her only competitor, Florencia de la Vega from Argentina (1:24.77).
- The Americans took their only contested gold medal of the 100 back in the women’s S13 class, as 16-year old Colleen Young swam to a 1:14.06 win.
- In the S14 class for athletes with intellectual impairments, Australia’s Taylor Corry won an exciting battle over her countrymate Kayla Clarke for gold, by a margin of 1:12.17 to 1:12.28. Corry held that same small edge for most of the race.
Men’s 100 Freestyle
- Australia’s Grant Patterson won his second event of the day, topping the men’s S3 100 meter freestyle in 1:53.12. That/s his 4th gold medal in 4 starts so far at this meet.
- Gustavo Sanchez won the men’s S4 100 free uncontested in 1:27.34.
- Australia’s Matthew Haanappel won a tight men’s S6 100 freestyle in 1:09.31, beating out Brazil’s Talisson Glock (1:09.40).
- Australia picked up a third men’s 100 free title, when Mathew Levy took a no-doubter in the S7 class, winning in 1:01.61. That moves him to 1st in the world this year.
- Caio Alveira continued the back-and-forth battle between Brazil and Australia in this event, winning the S8 in 1:03.27 over Mexico’s Luis Andrade (1:03.65). American Evan Austin was 3rd in 1:04.95, and countrymate Ryan Duemler was 4th in 1:05.02
- Phelipe Rodrigues of Brazil won the S10 class in 52.13. Nathan Stein from Canada was 2nd in 52.86, and American Ian Silverman dropped down to go a 53.29 in this distance. That’s a lifetime best for Silverman by more than a second as he prepares to head off to USC in the fall to compete on their varsity team, and a fantastic time stepping so far outside of his distance comfort zone.
- S12 had only one competitor: Ignacio Gonzalez from Argentina, who swam a 1:01.64.
- South Africa made a rare appearance on the podium with a 52.31 victory from Charles Bouwer in 52.31. He beat out American Olympic medalist Tucker Dupree (54.17) for the gold medal, and Bouwer now has the fastest time in the world in 2014.
- Australia’s Daniel Fox took the victory in the men’s S14. Much as his S9 teammates alluded to in the first part of this article, Fox was slower than he was at the Commonwealth Games – but he still dominated the field at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. Mitchell Kilduff took 2nd in 56.38.
Women’s 50 Meter Breaststroke
- Mexico’s Fabiol Martinez Ramirez won the SB2 50 breaststroke in 1:37.44. Most of the world’s talent in this event is in Europe, where the continent currently holds the top 4 times in 2014.
- In the women’s SB3 100 breaststroke, Mexico got another victory, as Nelly Miranda won in 1:58.82.
Men’s 100 Meter Breaststroke
- Brazil’s Adriano de Lima won the men’s SB5 100 breaststroke in 1:44.23. The heavy favorite, his teammate Roberto Rodrigues, got disqualified in finals.
- The men’s SB6 100 breaststroke went to Roderick Sewell Jr. in 1:40.68. Sewell has an incredible story – he was homeless in San Diego as a teenager, and after meeting Rudy Garcia-Tolson, Sewell is now a Pan Pacs Champion and finishing his college degree, all through the power of the Paralympic movement.
- Australia’s Blake Cochrane won the men’s SB7 100 breaststroke in 1:18.36, beating American Evan Austin (1:23.95). That’s a world-leader for Cochrane.
- Timothy Disken won the SB8 100 breaststroke in 1:15.23. He was locked up with American newcomer Dalton Herendeen at the turn, but Disken was just able to open up the gap in the second-half to win over Herendeen’s 1:16.11. That swim for the American, though only good for silver, it broke his own American Record set earlier this year at 1:17.48.
- Kevin Paul from South Africa won the men’s SB9 100 breaststroke in 1:05.82. He has the two fastest times in the world this year, at least, and is far better than anyone else in the world. has been. Russia’s Pavel Poltatsev was the 2012 Paralympic Champion, but hadn’t been back to that level until he went a 1:06.65 to win the European title earlier this week.
- Japan’s Keiichi Kimura won the men’s SB11 100 breaststroke in 1:14.39. American Tharon Drake was 2nd in 1:15.78, and Brad Snyder, on back-to-back races, was 3rd in 1:21.15.