After the morning session of the 4th day of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Americans are lined up for a very good evening (especially on the men’s side, where the Brazilians have dominated thus far).
In the 200 free, Club Wolverine swimmer Matthew Patton took the top seed in 1:50.09, but former NCAA Champion Shaune Fraser (Cayman Islands) was tight behind him in 1:50.27. Paraguay’s Ben Hockin (who we highlighted in last night’s meet) took the 3rd position. Hockin is the former British swimmer who was suspended in 2008 for switching his sporting nationality without notifying anybody. More on his story tonight, if he wins a medal.
Venezuela’s Cristian Quintero and another former NCAA Champion in the 200 free, Brett Fraser, will also be in the final. Scot Robison was the final qualifier (though by a comfortable margin out of the final heat, with all of the other times already lined up).
In the women’s 200 IM, American Julia Smit will aim to become the first individual double-gold medalist of the meet, adding to her win in the 400 on Saturday. She had a dominant margin over the field with a prelims mark of 2:15.52; it doesn’t appear as though anybody is going to chase her down, so she will be aiming for her own Meet Record, set in 2007, of 2:13.07.
Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson was the 2nd seed in the morning heats, also by a wide margin. She was actually better than Smit if you toss out the backstroke leg, but has struggled with backstroke throughout her career. Brazil’s Joanna Maranhao and Canada’s Hannah Pierse will also contend for medals. The other American, Whitney Myers, qualified 6th, and is also within reach of the podium.
In the women’s 800 free prelims (finals of which will be contested tomorrow evening), Chile’s Kristel Kobrich took the top seed in 8:42.16, and was able to finish her race much better than in the 400. The pace was not all that fast in prelims, but all of the big names made it safely through. That includes Ashley Twichell of the United States, the Pintos (Andreina and Yanel) of Venezuela, and Mexico’s Susana Escobar of Mexico. Also qualifying for the final is Ecuador’s Samantha Arevalo in 8:59.39, which clears her own National Record from Worlds.
The only surprise was a scratch from American teenager Gillian Ryan, the defending National Champion in this event. This comes the day after she won gold in the 400 free.
The Americans (finally) showed some depth in breaststroke racing, at any level, when they put up the top two seeds in the prelims of the 200. Sean Mahoney was the fastest out of the first heat (2:14.20), and Clark Burckle taking the second overall seed in 2:15.76.
Brazil’s Thiago Pereira is lurking behind as the 4th overall seed, and is certainly capable of standing atop the podium. Expect the final of this race to challenge the Meet Record of 2:13.37, set by Kyle Salyards in 2003.
The only question for the 800 free final tonight is who will be on it. In prelims (there were only 7 countries entered), they placed a full 24 seconds ahead of the next-best team, the Mexicans, in 8:05.64.
Also tonight will be the final of the men’s 1500, where the prelims were swum yesterday.