Though the Brazilian men have been dominant, the Brazilian women still have not won an event (and only five medals all-told). Their fate might change on the final day of pool-swimming at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
In the women’s 50 free, 19-year old Gracielle Hermann of Brazil took the top seed in 25.28. That’s a career-best for her by by over half-a-second, which is a huge drop in a single season. This young swimmer might be on the way to being (finally) a great Brazilian sprinter. Dare I say it, the female Cielo?
Lara Jackson, who has had a resurgent year, is the 2nd seed in 25.39, just a fingernail ahead of Madison Kennedy (25.40). In the final, look out for Puerto Rican Vanessa Garcia. She was the fastest to the turn in the 100, and has much better in her than the 25.64 she put up in prelims.
The women’s 400 medley relay dominated with a top time by more than 11 seconds in the morning session, and broke the Pan American Games Record with a 4:04.52. That was just .08 faster than the 2007 quartet of Julia Smit, Michelle McKeehan, Kathleen Hersey, and Maritza Correia. McKeehan and Smit are both in attendance at this meet, but neither was on this relay.
The most impressive legs of that swim were Liz Pelton’s 1:00.71 on backstroke (faster than she was in the individual) and Erika Erndl’s anchor of 54.8.
Brazil touched second in 4:15.53 with Canada right behind in 4:15.73. Both relays will likely switch out their anchors in prelims, but I think the Canadians will take the silver (they’ll swap out breaststroker Kierra Smith for Ashley McGregor as well).
In the men’s 200 backstroke, USC training partners Omar Pinzon (2:01.14) and Thiago Pereira (2:03.63) took the top two seeds in prelims, though it was overall a lackluster session in the race. The Americans Rex Tullius (2:03.82) and Ryan Murphy (2:03.89) finished 3rd and 4th in the lightly entered race (that was effectively 9 swimmers contending for 8 spots). Because of the light competition in prelims, I assume that the final will be much, much faster, and that it will take well under two minutes to even medal.
In the men’s 400 medley relay, it looks like the American men will likely earn their first gold medals since Wednesday, with a 3:38.78 in the prelim. That puts them 9 seconds ahead of the Brazilians, who are the only other contenders (and got a 48.2 relay anchor from Bruno Fratus). Both relays will be much faster in finals (the Americans have room to drop on every leg, aside from a freat 1:00.0 from Kevin Swander on breaststroke), but they should still win easily and likely break the Meet Record.