Jessica Long Wins Twice, Pergolini Sets World Record at Paralympic Trials Day 1


The first day of competition at the 2021 USA Paralympic Swimming Trials kicked off yesterday, with athletes gathering at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. Unlike the Olympic Trials, the Paralympic Trials don’t serve as the selection meet for the team selected to travel to Tokyo later this summer. Instead, it is an opportunity for athletes to impress a committee that is responsible for selecting the Paralympic team. Each event features multiple categories based upon the form of disability that they have.

In the women’s 100 breast, Jessica Long finished with the fastest time in the SB7 category, touching in 1:34.18. In 2016, she was the Paralympic bronze medalist in the event in Rio. After claiming gold in her first race of the day, Long went on to pick up a second win when she took to the water for the 100 back. There, she swam to the top time in the S8 category with a time of 1:20.11.

Long has seen media attention this year when she was featured in a Super Bowl for Toyota. She also was involved with a documentary this year titled “I am Second”, which documented her journey from being adopted in Serbia to being a Paralympic gold medalist.

Also racing in the 100 back was Gia Pergolini in the S13 category. The 17-year old from Dynamo Swim Club initially set the S13 World Record in prelims with a time of 1:05.31. In finals, she lowered it even further, touching in 1:05.13. This isn’t Pergolini’s first time setting a national or international record. In 2017, despite being just 13, she set the American and Pan American records in the same event. She has twice claimed silver in the event at World Championships, having finished second in both 2017 and 2019.

Narrowly missing the world record in the event, Robert Griswold finished with the fastest time in the S8 category of the 100 back. Griswold, who owns the world record in the 50 back, touched in 1:03.29, just off the record of 1:02.90 set by Cong Zhou in 2013.

The 2019 World Championships gold medalist in the event, Evan Austin came away with the fastest time in the 50 fly. While Austin won the S7 category in 29.57, he was closely followed by Rudy Garcia-Tolson, who finished in 31.99 for the silver medal. Since making his international appearance at the 2012 Paralympic Games, Austin has accrued numerous international medals. While he has yet to win a Paralympic medal, having missed the podium in 2012 and 2016, he has medaled at World Championships, Pan Pacific Championships, and CanAm Para Swimming Championships.

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1 year ago

Congrats to all – and Jessica has set SO many records over the years. I remember her Super Bowl ad – now I need to watch that documentary!