Prochaska, Winnett win first U.S. swimming golds at Santiago 2023 as 13-year-old Cederholm shines
by Ros Dumlao
SANTIAGO, CHILE – Cali Prochaska (Fort Wayne, Indiana) and Taylor Winnett (Hershey, Pennsylvania) tallied Team USA’s first swimming golds to close out the second day of competition at the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023.
What made their golds extra special was sharing the podium with their teammates.
The women’s 200m IM SM9 was a race between Prochaska and Keegan Knott (Lake Villa, Illinois), with Prochaska touching the wall almost a second faster.
“I told her in the call room I love her, and we’ll just figure out what’s going to happen from there,” Prochaska said smiling with her arm resting on Knott’s shoulder. “It feels really good— I was really happy with how it turned out. It wasn’t the time we were looking for, but I can’t complain about it.”
For Knott, the silver medal was a long-time coming after trips to the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“I’ve never been able to medal before so it’s just really special,” Knott said. “It’s also my best time in the 200 IM in two years so it really means a lot to get back to where I want to be.”
Winnett dominated in the equivalent SM10 event for her second medal in Santiago— and first major international gold. During the medal ceremony, the 24-year-old happily took third-place finisher Chloe Cederholm (Salt Lake City, Utah) around her arm smiling. The 13-year-old is the youngest member of the entire Team USA at Santiago 2023 and made a major splash in her international debut.
“Coming here has been an amazing experience, yes, being super young and being able to experience this, but also being able to see the older swimmers help younger people like me,” Cederholm said. “It gets me so excited in what I’m going to be able to do to help younger people someday.”
The U.S. men made a push for the top of the podium but fell just short.
Bizarrely for Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neil (Colorado Springs, Colorado) he didn’t know how short in the 100m backstroke S8. When the 20-year-old touched the wall and turned to the scoreboard, the results weren’t posted—until later in the evening when he learned he took silver.
“It was not a feeling I want to do again,” the 20-year-old laughed. “I really didn’t know if I podiumed or not. I looked up to my mom and was like ‘What’s going on?’ She held up a two, so thankfully she knew what was happening, and it was a wave of relief knowing that all the hard work in many number years paid off.”
Adin Williams (Happy Valley, Oregon) switched to high gear in the final stretch of his 400m freestyle S7, beating his opponent in the next lane for silver, a result Williams wanted after missing the podium on the first day of competition.
“Oh it’s huge, it’s absolutely huge,” Williams said. “To get a silver medal at a competition of this caliber is just amazing.
“I feel like getting fourth in the 200 IM (on Saturday) for it not being one of my better events definitely gave me some really good momentum going into today, and I’m just really happy for what happened today.”
In his morning heat, David Gelfand (Weston, Connecticut) set the Parapan American record in the men’s 200m IM SM9 with 2:28.9, only to be reset by Brazil’s and eventual winner Lucas Lamente, one whom Gelfand knew would be the rabbit.
“I’ve swam against him (Lamente) in Lima (2019 Parapan Ams) and I’ve watched him compete at major international meets over the years,” said Gelfand, who came in second. “Four years ago, I managed to get a bronze in this event, and going into these Games the goal was to upgrade that and I’m happy to say that I’ve successfully done that.”
Competition resumes Monday (Nov. 20) at 9 a.m. local time with the third day of preliminary heats. All sessions will be streamed live on the Pan Am sports channel. Follow U.S. Paralympics Swimming on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and results throughout the competition, which runs through Nov. 25.
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Team USA Medals – Nov. 19
Cali Prochaska - women’s 200 IM SM9
Taylor Winnett – women’s 200m IM SM10
Adin Williams - men’s 400m freestyle S7
Keegan Knott - women’s 200 IM SM9
David Gelfand – men’s 200m IM SM9
Jack O’Neil – men’s 100m backstroke S8
Chloe Cederholm – women’s 200m IM SM10
Other Team USA Results:
Evan Wilkerson – 4th, men’s 100m butterfly S12
Piper Sadowski – 4th, women’s 100m backstroke S14
Braxton Wong – 4th, men’s 200m IM SM9
Rachel Keehn – 4th, women’s 200m IM SM10
Haven Shepherd – 4th, women’s 100m backstroke S8
Noah Bosch – 5th, men’s 200m IM SM9
William Rankine – 5th, men’s 100m butterfly S12
Trevor Lukacsko – 5th, men’s 100m backstroke S14
Emmett Martin – 6th, men’s 200m IM SM10
Abbas Karimi – 6th, men’s 50m backstroke S5
Connor Gioffreda – 6th, men’s 100m free S6