Tom Miazga has had a front-row seat to the world of Paralympic swimming for more than half a decade. That’s because he was a member of the 2008 Paralympic Team that traveled to Beijing, where he made the finals of the 400 freestyle. This summer, Tom will be with us bringing and insiders viewpoint of everything that goes on at the London Aquatics Centre during the 2012 Paralympic Games. If you have any questions for Tom, about the meet, about para-swimming in general, or anything else you see this week, leave them in the comments sections either of this post or any of our Paralympic posts, and he’ll address them!
Talk about swimmers hitting their taper right. Seven World Records on Day 1, and it was apparent that the excitement from yesterday carried over as another Seven World Records were broken on Day 2. The Chinese had another great session winning 7 medals to bring their total to 15, leading over second place Australia by five medals.
But it was the Americans who stole the headlines from the London Aquatics Centre.
First, in the women’s S8 400 free, American Jessica Long became the first swimmer of the meet two win multiple gold medals. Her 4:42.28 not only crushed her own World Record from earlier this year by two seconds (the old mark was 4:44.17), she blew-away the field by 18 seconds. Nobody else in this race even cracked the 5 minute barrier. She was around half-a-pool-length ahead of the next best swimmer, Britain’s Heather Frederiksen.
The other two Americans Brickelle Bro and McKenzie Coan were 5th and 6th, respectively.
Even with the double golds, however, the superstar Long had the show stolen away from her by Lt. Brad Snyder. Snyder won the men’s S11 100 freestyle with a 57.43 to become the first swimming gold medalist of this meet in the visually-impaired S11-S13 classes.
Snyder, former swimmer for the Naval Academy, lost his vision last year when he was ambushed by a dirt-cloak bomb in Afghanistan but has quickly become a superstar, not letting anything slow him down. Since becoming one of the prominent contenders on the Paralympic scene, the major news networks have eaten up his star as a symbol of the sort of heroes that make up the United States military: both because he sacrificed his vision in performing his duties and because afteward, he has demonstrated the impressive will of a military veteran.
Aside from Long, two other swimmers entered the ranks of multiple-event champions already: Australia’s Jacqueline Freney swam a 35.16 in the women’s S7 50 fly for a new Australian National Record; and Natalia Prologaieva from the Ukraine won the SM5 200 IM in a new World Record of 2:13.43. On the Men’s side, American Lantz Lamback finished in 6th place with a new American Record of 32.97, but a blazing 29.49 from China’s Shiyun Pan took home the gold, out-touching Yevheniy Bohodayko of Ukraine by seven-tenths of a second.
In the men’s S8 400 free, China’s Yinan Wang won in a new Asian Record of 4:27.11, pouring it all out on the last 50. He out-touched brothers Sam and Oliver Hynd of the hometown UK team; Sam was just a few tenths behind in 4:27.88, spoiling what was to be one of Britain’s best gold medal hopes at this meet. A shocking result as the top four swimmers in the event were all from Great Britain (Sean Fraser was seeded 4th, but only 3 from each country is allowed to compete in an event).
The big guns of the S10 class came out to play as the s10 50m Free began and finished in a flash. Brazil’s Andre Brasil paved the way in prelims with a new Paralympic Record of 23.50. Seeded about .4 seconds ahead going into finals, Brasil made sure that lead stayed put and blasted out a shocking 23.16 in finals, demolishing the World Record and posting a time that is quite honorable for able-bodied swimmers. Americans’ Ian Silverman and Justin Zook both put up strong swims, finishing 6th and 8th respectively. With the top 4 finishers being under 24 seconds, these were impressive swims from both, as the swimmers are not known for their sprint freestyles. On the women’s side, Canada’s Summer Mortimer got her hand on the wall first in World Record fashion of 28.10, ahead of Australia’s Sophie Pascoe who had quite a lot of momentum coming in with her dominating performance in the 2IM yesterday. Americans’ Susan Beth Scottand Anna Eames finished 5th and 8th respectively. Both swimmers posted faster times than their prelim swims and provided for a great race.
The S9 men and women competed in the 100m Back today, providing for great competition. On the men’s side, Australia’s Matt Cowdrey redefined the term “outside smoke”, winning the race from lane 1 in a Paralympic Record of 1:02.39. Great Britain’s James Crisp picked up the Silver, finshing .11 ahead of China’sXiaobing Liu.
American Elizabeth Stone continues to impress, picking up her second bronze of the meet in a time of 1:12.28. However, the race belonged to Ellie Cole from Australia winning the race in 1:09.42, beating 2nd place by more than 1.5 seconds.
Impressive performance from Italy’s Cecilia Camellini in the S11 Women’s 100m Freestyle. After dropping 4.5 seconds from prelims, Camellini blazed a 1:07.29, a new world record and taking the victory by 2.5 seconds.
Marc Evers of the Netherlands crushed the field in the S14 100m Back breaking the world record in a time of 1:01.85, while Bethany Firth of Ireland won the Women’s event in 1:08.93
In the final two events of the session, the first win went to Nataliia Prologaieva from Ukraine in the Women’s SM5 200 IM. Prologaieva won in a time of 3:13.43, winning by over 2 seconds and smashing the previous World Record. Finishing the meet with one final splash and dash, Eksender Mustafaiev picked Ukraine up yet another Gold medal winning the Men’s S4 50m Free.
The US seems to be hitting their stride, especially with a lot of swims yet to come tomorrow. Watch for Americans’ Rudy Garcia-Tolson and Evan Austin to duke it out in the SB7 100m Breast. On the women’s side, we will get to see the meet commence for Mallory Weggemann, as she battles it out with Jessica Long. This could shape up to be one of the most exciting races of the meet! Lt. Brad Snyder will try and complete the sweep of the sprint events in the 50m Free tomorrow. Tune-in to watch American Kelley Becherer (my former training partner, GO Kelley!) as she looks to repeat her performance from Beijing and bring home the gold once again in the 50m Free.
14 World Records and too many Paralympic Records to count. Those sounds like statistics you’d hear at the end of the meet. Nope, we still have 8 days to go.