Morgan Stickney Breaks Two World Records in One Swim on Saturday at US Para Nationals


Three more World Records fell on the second day of the 2023 US Paralympics Swimming National Championship meet – and they all came in the same race.

Double Paralympic gold medalist Morgan Stickney whacked two World Records in one swim in the morning session. She swam 19:21.20 in the 1500, which takes almost a minute off the existing World Record for th S7 class which was set in 2018 by another Olympic gold medalist McKenzie Coan at 20:20.78.

Stickney’s 1500 was so fast, in fact, that she also broke Coan’s World Record at the 800 meter split. She swam the first 800 meters of that race in 10:14.47, which broke Coan’s 2018 record of 10:37.70 by 23 seconds.

That’s a rangy demonstration from Stickney who won the Paralympic gold medal in the 100 free in 2021 while competing in the S8 classification. In August, she broke a World Record in the 400 free that had stood for almost 11 years.

Stickney was reclassified after a second amputation of her legs.

“First off, I’m just so grateful to have the opportunity to race this weekend,” said Stickney. “That was the first time racing the 1500m as an amputee, so I definitely had no expectations going in. I just wanted to have fun because it’s my favorite event. Nationals is a great opportunity to get more racing in. I’m going through a lot medically, so I’m honestly just grateful to be here.”

She wasn’t the only record-breaker in that race. University of Northern Iowa swimmer Olivia Chambers broke the S13 World Record in that race – albeit by a much tighter margin. She swam 17:53.84, which shaved .06 seconds off the previous record held by para-swimming star Becca Meyers in 2014.

Paralympic Swimming Classifications range from S1 to S14. S1 to S10 are for athletes with physical disabilities, S11 to S13 are for athletes with visual impairments, and S14 is for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Within each grouping, a lower classification number is generally considered to be a more sever impairment to an athlete’s performance. Athletes have one classification for butterfly, freestyle, and backstroke races (S#), one for breaststroke races (SB#), and one for IM races (SM#). These numbers can be the same but are not necessarily equal, depending on the nature of an athlete’s disability.

Some meets, like the Paralympics, have races separated by classification. In other meets, multi-class scoring is employed, where each swimmer is given a point value using a statistical model to try and evaluate a great swim for their class, and the winner is the swimmer with the highest point value (aka closest, or surpassing, the World Record). This meet is being adjudicated via a multi-class system.

The 1500 free is not a Paralympic event, however, and the focus for Team USA this week is climbing the World Rankings to earn more quota spots for Paris 2024.

To that end, Morgan Ray broke four American Records on Saturday, adding to his World Record from Friday in the 200 breaststroke (a non-Paralympic event).

On Saturday, Ray first broke the American Record in prelims of the 100 breast with a 1:22.85. That broke his own American Record of 1:22.99 done in April of this year. His 50 meter split was 39.99, which improved his American Record split opening the 200 on Saturday of 40.20. The previous record was his own 40.57 from June.

Then in finals he swam 1:22.31 to break that record again, and his first 50 meter split of 39.19 also re-broke his own record.

Ray, who trains with the Bolles School Sharks in Jacksonville, Florida, is chasing his first Paralympic appearance.

Other Day 2 Highlights

  • LA 2028 ambassador Jamal Hill kicked off his racing in the 50 free with a 991-point time of 25.40. That was the highest-scoring swim of the meet besides the aforementioned World Records in the 1500 free. That swim misses his own American Record from the Tokyo Paralympics by .21 seconds. He now ranks 3rd in the world in 2023, though Italy’s Simone Barlaam has set World Records in the race at the last two World Championships with times of 24.00 and 23.96, respectively, leaving an uphill battle for gold in Paris.
  • S6 swimmer Elizabeth Marks won the 100 back with a 965 point 1:22.94. That added to her win on Friday in the 400 free for her second of the meet. Gia Pergolini, who set a World Record in the 50 back Friday, was 3rd in the 100 with a 948 point 1:06.62 – about two seconds shy of her American Record.
  • Pergolini (S13) won the 50 free in 27.88 for 915 points; that was just 1 point ahead of Natalie Sims (S9), who was 2nd in 30.24.
  • Colleen Young (SB13) won her second breaststroke event of the meet on Saturday. After winning the 200 on Friday, she won the 100 on Saturday in 1:17.12 for a 950 point swim. She’s the American Record holder at 1:14.79.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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