Tokyo Paralympics Day 2: Mereshko Cracks SM6 200 IM World Record in Prelims



  • There are 14 classifications for Paralympic swimmers, typically denoted as “S” followed by a number.
  • “SB” designates an athletes classification for breaststroke events
  • “SM” is for individual medley events
  • Athletes with physical impairments are classified in S1-S10, SB1-SB9, and SM1-SM10 with numbers 1-10 ranging from more severe activity limitations to less severe limitations.
  • Athletes with visual impairments are classified in S/SB11-13.
  • Athletes with intellectual impairments are classified in S/SB14.
  • The Paralympics are not the “Para Olympics” or anything similar. The International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee are separate organizations with separate leadership and separate events that happen to have a partnership to organize their crowned jewels more efficiently.

Day 2 of the Tokyo Paralympics started off Thursday morning in Tokyo with a couple of sprint freestyle events.

Great Britain’s Tully Kearney and China’s Li Zhang had a rematch in the S5 women’s 100 free, following the S5 200 free final last night where Zhang out-touched Kearney for gold by .12. Zhang started off the event by winning heat one (1:22.09) but the British duo of Kearney and Suzanna Hext passed her in heat 2 with times of 1:19.60 and 1:21.69.

Kearney came within 1.24 of her world record from day one where she split a 1:16.36 in the 200 free final. Also in heat two, Australia’s Rachel Watson S4 Paralympic record time of 1:35.27 for 11th place overall.

In the S4 Men’s 100 free, world record-holder Ami Omer Dadaon of Israel was disqualified in heat two. He set the world record recently in May at the Para European Championships and his prelims time of 1:20.52 would have broken the Paralympic record from 2004 by more than 2 seconds.

Italy’s  Luigi Beggiato swam a 1:22.93 in heat two to claim the top spot in the final, within .16 of the Paralympic record.

Then, Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Mereshko and USA’s Elizabeth Marks dueled in heat two of the SM6 women’s 200 IM. Marks ahead at 50,100, 150 but Mereshko ran her down with a 37.95 on the last 50 (almost 3 seconds faster than Marks’ split) to break the world record with a time of 2:56.90.

The record was previously set by Great Britain’s Maisie Summers-Newton at 2:57.24 in 2019. Marks came within .18 of the previous record to snag 2nd place while Summers-Newton finished in 3rd (3:00.15). The previous Paralympic record holder Eleanor Simmonds of Great Britain placed 6th (3:07.63).

Meet results declare that USA’s Anastasia Pagonis cracked the S11 women’s 400 free world record with a time of 4:58.40, although she already posted a 4:56.16 at the U.S. Paralympic Trials in June to break the S11 world record. Regardless, the record is hers and this was a great swim for Pagonis who simultaneously crushed the Paralympic record.

In heat one, the Netherlands’ Liesette Bruinsma won with a 5:10.33 to briefly set the Paralympic record before Paganis broke it in heat two. The previous record was set at 5:11.32, set by Daniela Schulte of Germany in 2012. With Bruinsma posting the second-fastest prelims time, about 12 seconds behind Pagonis, the 17-year-old American has a great chance of winning her first Paralympic medal in this event.

In the SB9 women’s 100 breast, the Netherlands’ Lisa Kruger won heat one with a 1:13.83 to crack her own Paralympic record of 1:15.47 from Rio. But her countrymate Chantalle Zijderveld, the world record holder in this event, blasted a 1:11.23 to lower her world record from June and the Paralympic record.

Katja Dedekind of Australia cracked the S13 women’s 100 back Paralympic record in heat 1 with a 1:07.38. She fended off world record holder Carlotta Gilli of Italy, who took 2nd place, by .62. But then USA’s Gia Pergolini took heat two by storm, barreling into the wall with a time of 1:05.05 to crush Gilli’s world record from the Para European Championships in May and Dedekind’s minutes-old Paralympic record.

They make up the top three seeds going into finals, but it may be more of a one-woman show as Pergolini took out the first 50 a full second faster than everyone else with a 31.33.

More Day 2 Prelims Highlights

Belarus’ Ihar Boki dominated the S13 men’s 100 back with a 57.57. He was the only swimmer to break 1:00.00 and came within 1 second of his world record from the Rio Paralympics. Also in heat 2, Thomas van Wanrooij of the Netherlands took 2nd place overall (1:00.48 ).

Andrei Kalina of the Russian Paralympic Committee claimed the top spot going into the SB8 men’s 100 breast final out of heat two with a time of 1:08.46. He came within 1.45 of his world record from the Beijing Paralympics. It will be a tight race for the podium with the top four seeds (Kalina, Spain’s Oscar Salguero Galisteo, the Netherlands’Tim van Duuren, and RPC’s Daniil Smirnov) within .7 of each other. 

Ireland’s Ellen Keane and New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe had an exciting race in the SB8 women’s 100 breast. Pascoe was out fast in 37.97 compared to Keane’s 50 meter split of 38.48, but Keane came back hard and touched the wall 1st 1:21.71, out-touching Pascoe by .04. They are ranked 1-2 going into the final, but are a ways off the Paralympic record time of 1:17.17 from 2012 set by Russia’s Olesia Vladykina.

In the first relay event of the meet, the mixed 4×50 free relay, Italy earned the top spot going into finals, a couple of seconds ahead of 2nd place finisher Ukraine. Italy’s team of Arjola Trimi, Arianna Talamona, Francesco Bocciardo, and Antonio Fantin touched in 1st place at 2:25.48. China is the defending champion and world record-holder in this event (they set the mark at 2:18.03 at the Rio Paralympics) and they placed 4th in prelims.

More Day 2 Top Prelims Seeds

  • SM6 men’s 200 IM: Nelson Crispin, COL – 2:43.07
  • S5 men’s 100 free: Weiyi Yuan CHN – 1:12.66
  • S11 men’s 400 free: Rogier Dorsman, NED – 4:30.23

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About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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