Pignatiello Defends South American Title in 800 Free by .01; Delgado Takes Gold

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 3

March 16th, 2021 News


Argentina’s Delfina Pignatiello kicked off her South American Championship meet by defending her title in the women’s 800 free.

This meet, delayed from last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, includes teams from across South America, and, this year, a team from countries like Mexico and Puerto Rico as well – countries that don’t normally participate.

Pignatiello won the first medal of the day, topping the 800 free in 8:34.10. That’s almost 8 seconds faster than she swam at the last edition in 2018, but in spite of the drop, she was not unchallenged in the race: Chilean 36-year old veteran Kristel Kobrich pushed her to the wire, finishing just .01 seconds behind in 8:34.11. The two traded leads throughout the race, but Pignatiello’s closing kick made up almost a full second deficit to give her the win.

The 2018 silver medalist Delfina Dini, also of Argentina, placed 3rd.

The Argentinian women, who dominated their side of the pool in 2018, are off to another hot start. They got another gold from Julia Sebastian in the 100 breaststroke. Sebastian is the 4-time defending champion in the 200 breaststroke, but has never previously won this 100 breaststroke – she has taken silver at the previous 4 editions.

Ecuador freshman Anicka Delgado, who pulled out of this week’s NCAA Championships in the United States to attend this meet, made the most of her first decision, winning the 100 free in 55.97. That, along with her 55.91 in prelims, sneaks her under the Olympic “B” cut of 56.01, which should qualify her for the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer.

Among the other highlights was Ecuador’s Tomas Peribonio picking up a win in the 200 IM in 2:00.84. The defending 400 IM champion, Peribonio won bronze in 2018 in this race. He topped the runner-up Omar Pinzon, a former South American Champion in the 200 back, by almost 3 seconds.

Other Day 1 Winners:

  • Colombia’s Juan Morales Restrep won the men’s 800 free in 8:02.29. That broke his own National Record of 8:04.40 set in 2019.
  • Peru’s McKenna DeBever won the 200 IM in 2:16.07 to take her first South American Championship. Debever swam collegiately at Texas A&M University in the United States.
  • Brazil picked up their first gold medal of the meet when Lucas Peixoto Martins won the men’s 100 free in 49.36. The Brazilian men historically have dominated this meet. They’ve sent a thinner roster this year, but will still finish the first day of the meet with 3 gold medals and the top spot on the medals table.
  • Colombia’s Isabella Arcila won the 50 back in 28.77, beating out former American wunderkind Miriam Sheehan, who now represents Puerto Rico internationally. Sheehan took silver in 28.89 – one of two medals for the 16-year old at the meet after a bronze in the 100 free (56.59).
  • Puerto Rico continued to rack up the medals when Yeziel Morales won the men’s 50 back in 25.85. That breaks the Puerto Rican Record of 26.18 set 11 years ago by Roberto Perez.
  • Brazil won the women’s 800 free relay in 8:15.35, more than 5 seconds ahead of the field. The men also dominated their 800 free relay in 7:24.32, 10 seconds ahead of the field. Argentina finished 2nd and Chile placed 3rd. That’s Chile’s first men’s medal since 2014.

Medals Table – After Day 1

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total Medals
Argentina 2 2 4 8
Chile 0 1 1 2
Colombia 2 3 1 6
El Salvador 1 1
Brazil 3 1 2 6
Peru 1 1
Ecuador 2 2
Puerto Rico 1 1 1 3
Venezuela 1 1 2
Mexico 1 1
Paraguay 1 1


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1 year ago

Sheehan is 16 years old according to her FINA profile.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

For South America swim meets, they list you as whatever age you will be that year.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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