Women’s 50 freestyle
This race was the first Pan Ams record of the evening, and punctuated the triumphant return of Lara Jackson after tough 2008 and 2009 seasons. Her 25.09 cleared the mark set by Arlene Semeco at 25.14 in 2007, and it was only a tenth away from her USA Swimming National Championship time of 24.99.
Joining Jackson on the medal-stand, with a bronze, was Madison Kennedy in 25.24. This 50 free at the United States Olympic Trials will be one of the more competitive of the entire meet. Besides these two and the usual suspects (Weir, Hardy, Joyce), Dana Vollmer should be competitive too. She decided to drop the 200 last year, and the women’s 50 is the last event of the meet, so there’s no reason for her not to give it a go, and with a more sprint-centric approach, could be in the hunt. By June, after a year at Stanford, Maddie Schaefer could even upset the whole turnip truck.
Back to the present, the silver-medalist in this race was Graciele Hermann in 25.23, which cleared Kennedy by just .01. That’s another best time for Hermann, then 19-year old, who continues to move up the ranks of Brazilian swimming. After entering the meet without much fanfare, she is now the 5th-fastest Brazilian in history in this race.
Puerto Rico’s Vanessa Garcia took 4th in 25.39, and the defending champion Semeco of Venezuela was 5th in 25.57.
Men’s 200 backstroke
After tying the record for the most gold medals by a Brazilian at the Pan American Games on Wednesday, Thiago Pereira took sole position of that record by winning his 11th career gold medal in the men’s 200 backstroke, and he did so in stunning fashion with a new Meet Record of 1:57.19 (breaking his own record from 2007). That’s his best time of the season, and ranks him 10th in the world in 2011. Pereira will hold this record until at least 2015, as table tennis player Hugo Hoyama was knocked out in the round-of-16 in the singles. With Hoyama already 42, Pereira might be the final victor in the back-and-forth.
The runner-up was Omar Pinzon, Pereira’s teammate at the Trojan Swim Club, took 2nd in 1:58.31. That’s his best time outside of the 2009 World Championships (where he was wearing polyurethane), and puts him in the world’s top-25. The bronze went to 16-year old Ryan Murphy of the US. This is the first of many future international medals that will go in Murphy’s trophy case, as he’s one of the true young stars in the world of swimming.
Rex Tullius was 4th in 1:59.23.
Women’s 400 medley relay
This morning, the women’s 400 medley relay broke the Meet Record by the skin of their teeth. In finals, they came back and CRUSHED the prelims swim by over three seconds, touching in 4:01.00. Every leg of this relay was fantastic – Rachel Bootsma led off in a 1:00.46, to just miss the Meet Record. Annie Chandler then split a 1:07.6 on the breaststroke and Claire Donahue went a 59.03 on the fly. But then on the anchor, LSU swimmer Amanda Kendall really took off. Kendall secured her 4th gold medal, in her international debut, with an awesome 53.92 anchor. It would have been great to see her show down against Anna Vanderpool-Wallace in LSU’s dual-meet against Auburn tonight, but the pair will have plenty of chances to race in the spring.
Though gold was gone from the get-go, the fight for silver was very exciting between Canada and Brazil. The race was a back-and-forth battle – the Brazilians dominated the backstroke, then the Canadian the breaststroke to take a big lead. Daynara de Paula fought back to make the race a dead-heat going into the anchors, where Jennifer Beckberger anchored in 55.22 (and she needed every hundreth of it) to take silver in 4:07.04. Brazil took bronze in 4:07.12
Men’s 400 medley relay
The Americans and Brazilians both made whole-sale changes to their men’s 400 medley relays. For the Americans, it netted them a time savings of 1.7 seconds. For the Brazilians, it netted them of 14.7 seconds. Ultimately, it was Cielo who touched the wall first for his teammates (on a split of 47.28), with a total team time of 3:34.58. That missed the Meet Record by two-tenths of a second.
The Americans’ ultimate touch was 3:37.17. They didn’t swim poorly – this American squad just wasn’t as good as the Brazilians. They did take silver in 3:37.17. For bronze went the Argentinians in 3:44.51, That’s their first Pan Ams relay medal in more than three seconds.