Day 5 at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico didn’t see any meet records, and in fact the majority of the races were won by large margins. Still, there were plenty of great storylines, including Amanda Kendall’s first individual gold medal at the Pan Ams, and Thiago Pereira setting a record for most-career gold medals.
Women’s 100 free
As a freshman at LSU, Amanda Kendall showed flashes of potential by making several B finals at the SEC Championships, but nothing that would blow anybody’s socks off. After that season, however, when Dave Geyer took over the LSU program, Kendall’s career took off. Her rise continued today when she took her 3rd gold medal of her first big international meet by winning the 100 free in 54.75. She put together a very complete swim (26.34/28.41) to take a big victory.
Erika Erndl is also on her first major international team, but unlike the 20-year old Kendall, Erndl is one of the oldest members of the National Team. She too is having a great meet, and in this race placed 2nd in 55.04. The bronze medal went to Venezuela’s Arlene Semeco (55.43), but she had to fight back hard to earn the medal. That’s because Puerto Rico’s Vanessa Garcia took a lead into the turn, but looked slow through the wall and couldn’t recover to hold on. She finished 4th in 55.55.
An interesting note about this race: 5th-place finisher Jennifer Beckenberger (55.68) of Canada had her suit checked by a meet official as she was preparing to get on the block. It’s not clear what exactly the official was looking for, but it’s peculiar that there seems to be little faith in the Pan Ams suit-checking procedures (see Leonardo de Deus’ cap debacle from day 4). In a race that was this tight, who knows if that pre-race distraction made just enough of a difference to affect the outcome.
Men’s 200 IM
Thiago Pereira’s recent history has been going out very hard in the 200 IM, and then fade badly on the freestyle leg. But this swim wasn’t about that recent history, it was simply about history. Pereira won the race in 1:58.07 to take his 10th Pan Ams gold medal, which ties him with table-tennis player Hugo Hoyama for the most in Brazilian history (Hoyama already has one gold medal in the Team event, and with singles and doubles left to play, he could break the tie).
As it was, though, Pereira did put on a pretty big fade (though nowhere near as badly as he did in finals at Worlds). He went to a straight-armed stroke at the end though to put away silver-medalist Conor Dwyer, who touched in 1:58.64. As we speculated in our mid-day update, Pereira was the winner of the breaststroke leg (against a good breaststroking field) and subsequentlytook the win.
For Dwyer, that time was the best of his career, and moved him into 9th in the World Rankings.
The other Brazilian entry, Henrique Rodrigues, took a distant 3rd in 2:03.41.
Women’s 800 Free
In the 400 free, Chile’s Kristel Kobrich faded at the end of the race. Strangely, in the longer 800, she didn’t have any such problems. After she passed about that 400 meter mark, she slowly started to pull away from American Ashley Twichell. Twichell hung on her hip for another 100 meters or so, but Kobrich just kept pushing, and eventually won in 8:34.71. This missed Kaitlin Sandeno’s Meet Record by only .06 seconds, an excruciatingly narrow margin over such a long distance.
Twichell won the silver in 8:38.38, which is only a three-second add from Nationals. Not a bad margin for a distance race.
Andreina Pinto of Venezuela took the bronze in 8:44.55. Pinot, who is training with the Gator Swim Club, is living up to her standing as the Venezuelan flag bearer at the opening ceremonies, and has now won three medals in this meet.
Women’s 200 Fly
The USA’s Kim Vandenberg has had an eventful year. The former UCLA Bruin, who currently trains in France with Marseilles, has popped up at meets in every corner of the world this year. She capped off her 2011 Long Course Season in Guadalajara, Mexico with a gold medal in 2:10.54. Vandenberg was dominant throughout the race, but the battle for the silver was extremely tight. Former USC Trojan Lyndsay DePaul touched 2nd in 2:12.34, less than a tenth ahead of Mexico’s Rita Medrano in 2:12.43. DePaul and Medrano are two of the smaller international-level swimmers at 5’6 and 5’4, respectively, but DePaul used every inch of that mild height advantage to hold on to the win. Medrano’s turnover really kicked in on the final 50, and she nearly made up a half-second gap.
Brazil’s Joanna Maranhao was in the hunt until the last length, but slipped back to 4th in 2:13.00.
As a demonstration of how huge the Pan Am Games are in Central and South America, both Rita Medrano of the home-nation and Joanna Maranhao of Brazil were trending worldwide after the race, without even winning.
Men’s 800 Free Relay
This relay was over from the get-go. The Americans pulled out a full-second lead by the 100 meter mark, and just continued to pull away. Conor Dwyer led them off in 1:47.62, which was easily the best split of the field, and missed his time from 2010 Nationals that earned his spot in Shanghai by only three tenths. Dwyer is continuing to build up to fight for his spot in London.
The Brazilians took the silver in 7:21.96, anchored by a 1:49.1 from Thiago Pereira. Venezuela had a great team swim of 7:23.41 for bronze.
Disappointingly, we didn’t get to see a Cayman Islands relay featuring the first-and-second place swimmers from the individual 200 free: Brett and Shaune Fraser. While the pair aren’t nearly enough to carry a relay at the Olympics or the Worlds, it would have been great to see them get another opportunity to put up times at this meet.