Kristel Kobrich Stans Flood Rachel Stege’s Instagram After Pan Am Gold Medal

by Spencer Penland 16

October 28th, 2023 International, National, News

Following American Rachel Stege‘s gold medal performance in the women’s 1500 free at the Pan American Games earlier this week, Chilean swimming fans took to her Instagram to voice support, as well as a bit of hate in the comments of her recent posts. Stege won the 1500 in a huge new career best of 16:13.59, beating out Chile’s Kristel Kobrich by exactly a second and setting a new Pan American Games Record. Pan Ams was being hosted in Santiago, Chile, and the host country’s fans were fired up in multiple directions by the result.

The internet did what the internet does and the initial flood of comments on Stege’s IG was largely negative and from Chilean swim fans who were upset she beat Kobrich. One account commented the same thing multiple times, saying “you beat the Chilean 18 years older than you by a second or less. How do you feel about that?” Another account commented on what was then her most recent post “you don’t know what a gold medal means to Chile and Kristel.”

After the initial rush of negative commenters, a flood of Chilean swimming fans voiced their support for Stege. “Why are they upset that he won?? She was also showing her face for her country and she did it.. I don’t have to but I congratulate her,” one commenter wrote. Another said “Great triumph, you took gold from us. There is no denying what an excellent swimmer you are.”

These comments aren’t necessarily anything out of the ordinary for social media platforms. Athletes receive hate from opposing fans all the time across all sports. So, what fired up the Chilean swimming fans about this specific race?

Well, the answer to that is actually quite simple. Kristel Kobrich is a hero in the eyes of Chilean swimming, and for good reason. She’s had one of the longest careers we’ve ever seen in competitive swimming, from any country, and certainly one of the longest from someone who is still able to compete at the international level.

Kobrich was competing in her 6th Pan American Games this week. That’s a record for most Pan American Games competed in. At 38 years old, Kobrich earned the silver medal in that 1500 free, which marked the 5th Pan American Games in which she has won a medal, which is also a record in itself. Chilean fans would have loved nothing more than to see her win gold in that race, especially because she was under the Pan American Games Record.

Kobrich has been a staple of Chilean and South American swimming for two decades now. She made her major international meet debut back at the 2002 South American Games, where she would win the bronze medal in the women’s 400 free as a 17-year-old. Over the course of her career, Kobrich has now won a total of 18 South American Games medals, 8 of which are gold, and all of which came in individual events. She would go on to compete at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, where she would pick up bronze in the 800 free.

Kobrich made her Olympic debut at the 2004 Games in Athens, where she was a flag-bearer for Chile. She’s competed in every Olympics since then, putting her in rare company as a swimmer to race in 5 Olympics. She’s also qualified for her 6th Olympics, that being the upcoming Paris Olympics next summer.

Kobrich has been a dominant force in women’s distance swimming in South America. She has at times held the South American Records in the women’s 800 and 1500 free, both short course and long course. Currently, she holds the South American Record in the SC 800 free.

Kobrich is Chile’s greatest swimmer in their history, and the fans adore her for it. Chile was selected as the host of these 2023 Pan American Games and Kobrich was named a flag bearer for her country. She gave interviews speaking about how much of an honor it was to be able to compete in Chile and how excited she was.

The story of Kristel Kobrich is not yet finished, as she’ll be competing in Paris next summer and maybe even beyond, but one thing is sure: she’ll go down as one of the great stories in swimming. Not because she won a ton of Olympic or World Championship medals, but because she’s one of the premier examples of longevity in the sport and she came from a country without a rich history of swimming and has managed to compete amongst the best for more than two decades.

Fans often get out of control on the internet but, at least in this example, it was nice to see that Chilean swimming fans also came to Stege’s defense and called out those who were posting negative comments.

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5 months ago

There are currently football (i.e. soccer) fans having actual heart attacks over their teams losing. I think we can live with a few emotional swim fans.

5 months ago

This is actual clown activity and I have second-hand embarassment for Kristel Kobrich.

Reply to  Swimmerj
5 months ago

I haven’t yet come across swimming stans. My jaw is still hanging from where I incredulously read that according to Duke and Duchess of Sussex stans, the couple had no choice but to terminate their service to the BRF and move to California. After all, the stans insist that with their superior mad Royal in’ skillz, the couple “have no desire to eclipse the King.” Fat chance!

Soft Sport
5 months ago

This sport is too polite, why can’t we just trash talk each other and make this thing more intense like basketball and football. I’ve never seen competitors dap up each other after a race, bro I’m trash talking or getting heated.

5 months ago

Having followed competitive swimming for 50+ years, Kobrich is a name I’ve seen so many times. I saw the 1500 race in Santiago – and it was a superb battle of two female Amazons fighting it out to the end: superb! Of course, I felt for Kobrich – her face was a tidal wave of different emotions as she walked around the natatorium. But, in the end, she will swim another day for all of us, and Stege deserves that gold 100% .

Sherry Smit
5 months ago

That’s so weird. I’m sorry but it’s apart of the sport, someone beating another person. Like come on, stop hating on a 20 year old for doing what she was selected to do.

5 months ago

Complete non-story

Reply to  hambone
5 months ago

The story is that a swimmer has fans that would blast like that on insta 😉

Swim Mom 3
5 months ago

What did the negative people want to happen? All the other swimmers to lose on purpose for their Kristel because Pam Ams were held in Chile? 😂 I doubt Kristel would have wanted to win that way. Rachel works hard and won fair and square. End of story. This is a sport.

Steve Nolan
5 months ago

Gun to my head, I don’t think I could diagram that headline sentence with any certainty.

Last edited 5 months ago by Steve Nolan
Reply to  Steve Nolan
5 months ago

Spoken like someone who prefers nacho cheese Doritos to cool ranch.

(Sorry seems like the cool thing to do lately is just make up stuff about Steve Nolan in the comments to undercut his comments even though he comments under his real name and we all know who he is).

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

lol at first I thought this was a reference to me being old. “Cool ranch is prolly a newer flavor, but idk it’s p good…”

It me:

comment image

Reply to  Steve Nolan
5 months ago

definitely hard if you don’t know that “stan” is a noun

Steve Nolan
Reply to  TXSwimDad
5 months ago

Right! That’s what initially threw me.

After clicking in and seeing “Rachel Stege” and “Kristel Kobrich” were the names that made it a bit easier. (“Is “stan’s flood” the outcome of some tropical storm named Stan I didn’t know about??”)