Gioffreda gets golden moment as Prochaska gets golden redemption at Santiago 2023
by Ros Dumlao
SANTIAGO, CHILE – Megan Gioffreda (Towson, Maryland) finally felt the sudden excitement of winning her first major career gold medal on the third day of swimming at the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023.
From the surprise of seeing her name at the top of the scoreboard, to the realization that the roars in the crowd were for her, the new Parapan Am champion in the women’s 200m IM SM6 was soaking in the moment.
“I started to feel happy, tears—oh my gosh, I was so surprised. That’s all I can say,” said Gioffreda, who added to her bronze in the 100m backstroke S6. “This is such a cool experience, and I’m so grateful. Everything that people have given me - my coaches, my amazing teammates, my staff here.”
The race came down to the wire and saw Gioffreda trailing after the first 50-meter butterfly. But she found a way to make up time and beat Brazil’s runner-up Laila Suzigan by 0.86 seconds.
“To be honest the fly, I didn’t really feel good,” she added. “I came out, I was breathing, I was like ‘Oh jeez, I have three more laps of this.’ … But my backstroke and my breaststroke felt super good.”
The results of the women’s 100m butterfly S9 also could’ve gone either way— and it went in Cali Prochaska’s (Fort Wayne, Indiana) favor, finishing a second ahead of Argentina’s reigning Parapan Am silver medalist Daniela Gimenez. Monday’s victory felt like redemption for Prochaska after missing the podium at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 in the same event.
“This is a race I swam at the last quad in Lima; I was fourth,” Prochaska recalled. “(Today I) got out and touched the wall, so just really good to be able to get there first and see how training has progressed this last quad.”
Taylor Winnett (Hershey, Pennsylvania) nabbed her third medal of the competition and almost her second gold as she chased down Colombia’s Maria Barrera in the final 100m of the women’s 400m freestyle S10. The crowd noise intensified down to the final second, when Winnett learned she was just 0.33 seconds shy of the gold.
“I knew that I was going to have to book it this last 100,” Winnett said. “Honestly that’s how I love to race. I love to push myself. Going in I was seeded third or fourth so knowing that I had to fight for it made it really fun.”
Winnett’s compatriot Mikaela Jenkins (Evansville, Indiana) completed the podium— a result she was pleased with having arrived in Santiago yesterday afternoon due to school.
“I’m pretty happy with that,” said the two-time Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion. “I’m in the middle of my college swim season, so we’re in mid-season swimming. We’re all as a team very, very tired. I’m majoring in molecular biology and chemistry on a pre-med track, and I’m in the middle of applying for medical school,” Jenkins explained.
Having been disappointed in his 50m backstroke S5 performance the day before, Abbas Karimi (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) quickly turned it around on Monday to capture bronze in the butterfly.
“(I told myself) the reason why I became a swimmer and (the reason for) this journey that I put on myself, and where I came from,” said Karimi, who owns the silver medal in this event from 2017. “It came from swimming. I made it this far, and it all came from swimming.”
David Gelfand (Weston, Connecticut) was able to spoil a Brazilian sweep in the men’s 100m butterfly S9 to take bronze and add to his silver from yesterday’s 200m IM.
“The plan was that I just needed to be really strong going out and then just stay with the pack, stay right there, and the turn just attack and just hold the stroke, hold the consistency, hold it together as well as I can and do what I can to get it back on the podium,” Gelfand said.
Competition resumes Tuesday (Nov. 21) at 9 a.m. local time with the fourth 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 – November 20
Megan Gioffreda – women’s 200m IM SM6
Cali Prochaska – women’s 100m butterfly S9
Taylor Winnett – women’s 400m freestyle S10
Mikaela Jenkins women’s 400m freestyle S10
Abbas Karimi – men’s 50m butterfly S5
David Gelfand – men’s 100m butterfly S9
Other Team USA Results:
Haven Shepherd – 4th, women’s 100m breaststroke SB7
Trevor Lukacsko – 4th, men’s 100m breaststroke SB14
Haven Shepherd – 4th, women’s 100m butterfly S8
Jeff Lovett – 5th, men’s 100m breaststroke SB14
Chloe Cederholm – 5th, women’s 400m freestyle S10
Braxton Wong – 5th, men’s 100m butterfly S9
Abigail Kershaw – 8th, women’s 100m breaststroke SB14
Elise Morley – 6th, women’s 100m butterfly S9
Carson Bruner – 8th, men’s 100m butterfly S9