Stickney’s second world title caps four-medal final night for Team USA in Manchester
by Kristen Gowdy
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – Team USA brought home four more medals, including a second title of the meet from Morgan Stickney (Cary, North Carolina), as the 2023 Para Swimming World Championships concluded with a seventh day of competition at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.
World championships rookie Olivia Chambers (Little Rock, Arkansas) added a silver medal, while
Paralympians McClain Hermes (Dacula, Georgia) and Elizabeth Marks (Colorado Springs, Colorado) each brought home bronze to bring Team USA’s total on the meet to 25.
The Americans wrapped competition finishing 8th in the overall medal count. Chambers led the charge with six medals, while Noah Jaffe (Carlsbad, California) earned five. Stickney and Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) won two gold medals apiece to lead Team USA.
Already a world champion in the 400-meter freestyle S7, Stickney sprinted to her second world title of the meet in the 100-meter freestyle S7 in convincing fashion. Her time of 1:09.29 was nearly three seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I don’t get to sprint very often, so it’s always fun to get to do that. These are some amazing competitors I get to go against, and it was a really fun race.”
Stickney’s win is her fourth career world championships gold medal. The two-time Paralympic champion will look to qualify for her second Paralympic Games next summer.
“It’s so fun to be here and so fun to be a part of Team USA,” she said. “I’m so excited to see what training looks like and what the next year has to bring.”
Teammate Julia Gaffney (Mayflower, Arkansas) earned a spot in the 100-meter freestyle S7 finals alongside Stickney, but elected not to compete in the evening session. Her preliminary time of 1:15.97 would have ranked her sixth in the finals. Gaffney has had a busy meet, earning three medals in five events.
The two-time Paralympian Hermes swam to her first world championships medal since 2017, securing bronze in the women’s 400-meter freestyle S11 with a time of 5:18.66.
For Hermes, the medal was redemption after a fourth-place finish in the event at the 2022 world championships.
“I had a really good prelim swim today, and knew I had to keep it together for the finals,” Hermes said. “I did something similar last year where I swam really fast in the morning and then fell apart at night, so I knew that I needed to go out strong and hold onto it. I’m really happy to go another personal best time tonight and to get a medal.”
Hermes attributed her medal in part to her recent shift to training as a dual-sport athlete in both swimming and paratriathlon. She recently graduated from Loyola University Maryland and has transitioned to living at the United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“My training has really changed,” she said. “I learned how to ride a bike and run in the last year, and that has really benefitted my training. I’m swimming less, but I’m doing so much more cardio and cross-training that it’s really impacting my swimming for the better. It’s really great to be competing in two sports right now and seeing growth in both.”
The medal is Hermes’ sixth career world championships podium.
Chambers, meanwhile, completed a perfect six-for-six podium performances in her world championships debut, taking her second consecutive silver medal in the women’s 200-meter individual medley SM13. Chambers wrapped her meet with a time of 2:28.23, putting herself comfortably in the silver medal position.
The 20-year-old will return home with four bronze medals to accompany her two silvers in what has been a dominant and well-rounded first world championships. She won medals in three freestyle events, plus butterfly and breaststroke, then put it all together for her individual medley medal tonight.
She will seek her first Paralympic Games berth next summer.
Teammate and Paralympic medalist Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri) returned to the pool for her final race of the meet and placed fifth behind Chambers. Young won silver in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke SB13 earlier in the week, adding her 12th career world championships medal.
The five-time Paralympic medalist Marks swam to her second bronze medal of the meet, snagging a podium finish in the women’s 50-meter butterfly S6 competition. Marks’ time of 36.80 was just .3 seconds off the silver medal pace, and just over two seconds behind the world record and gold medal-winning time set by Yuyan Jiang of China.
Marks also earned bronze in the 200-meter individual medley SM6 earlier in the week. She adds her fourth and fifth world championships medals to her resumé in Manchester as she tries for her third Paralympic Games next summer.
Paralympic silver medalist David Abrahams (Havertown, Pennsylvania), already a Manchester medalist in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke SB13, just missed his second medal of the week in the men’s 200-meter individual medley SM13. Abrahams put together a strong second half of the medley in the breaststroke and freestyle legs and was just out-touched at the wall, finishing .29 seconds off the bronze medal pace. Abrahams is set to return to Harvard University for his senior season on the men’s swimming team.
After winning a bronze medal in last night’s 200-meter freestyle, Paralympic silver medalist Leanne Smith (Salem, Massachusetts) finished her meet with a fifth-place result in the women’s 100-meter freestyle S3. She swam to a time of 2:05.61 in her sixth race of the week.
Team USA’s mixed 4x100-meter freestyle relay finals team, comprised of Stickney, Jaffe, Jamal Hill (Inglewood, California) and Audrey Kim (Salt Lake City, Utah) combined for a fifth-place finish in the mixed 4x100-meter freestyle relay 34 pts. to cap the meet for the Americans. Team USA swam to a time of 4:12.75.
The prelims relay team of Jaffe, Hill, Lizzi Smith (Muncie, Indiana) and Long finished second in their heat to qualify Team USA’s finals team into the evening session.
Hill also earned a fourth-place finish in the men’s 50-meter freestyle S9 just before competing in the relay finals. The Paralympic bronze medalist missed the podium by just .16 seconds in one of the closest Team USA finishes in Manchester. He and Stickney both raced both individual and relay races on the day.
Lizzi Smith, who swam in the prelim relay and qualified for the women’s 50-meter freestyle S9 final in the morning session, took a sixth-place finish in the event final. The three-time Paralympic medalist’s top finish of the week was fourth in the women’s 100-meter butterfly S9.
Paralympian Lawrence Sapp (Waldorf, Maryland) earned a seventh-place finish in the men’s 100-meter butterfly S14 competition, his signature event and only race of the meet. Sapp swam nearly identical times between his prelim and his final, finishing in 58.10 and 58.09, respectively.
Rounding out Team USA’s results was Paralympic champion Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, North Carolina), who wrapped her meet with a sixth-place finish in her heat of the women’s 50-meter freestyle S9.
With 2023 Para Swimming World Championships competition concluded, Team USA turns to its next major meet: the 2023 ParaPan American Games in Santiago, Chile, this November. Follow U.S. Paralympics Swimming on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on the team.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.
Team USA Medals – August 5
Morgan Stickney – women’s 100-meter freestyle S7
Olivia Chambers – women’s 200-meter individual medley SM13
McClain Hermes – women’s 400-meter freestyle S11
Elizabeth Marks – women’s 50-meter butterfly S6