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Rankine’s time to shine at Santiago 2023 as Team USA collects three more swimming medals

by Ros Dumlao

William Rankine (Photo by Javier Valdes/Parapanamericanos 2023)

SANTIAGO, CHILE – It was William Rankine’s (Warner Robins, Georgia) turn to have his moment on the podium ahead of compatriot Evan Wilkerson (Wake Forest, North Carolina) and celebrate his first major international medal with silver on the fourth day of competition at the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023.


It wasn’t anything personal between the vision impaired duo.


In fact, the teammates who first met at a surf camp in North Carolina more than a decade ago developed a bond because they compete regularly against each other. They only reconnected at a competition in 2021.

And they both knew very well that Rankine would take the better result in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke SB12 on Tuesday.


“It’s always fun,” said Rankine on racing against Wilkerson. “We try to be with each other in our off events because he is a backstroker and I’m horrible at backstroke.”


Bronze medalist Wilkerson chimed in: “Yeah, I’m not so good at breaststroke.”


“I love competing with Will because he’s awesome, he’s a breaststroker and I’m not. I always try to keep up with him,” said Wilkerson, who added to his Parapan Am silver medal in the backstroke from earlier in Santiago.


Rankine had nearly a seven-second gap ahead of Wilkerson but only a split second from Colombia’s first-place finisher and Parapan Am record holder Daniel Giraldo. Still, the result was positive for 19-year-old Rankine.


“I’m excited,” said Rankine who clocked 1:14.35. “I wasn’t expecting to go my best time. We didn’t rest much coming into this meet because it’s kind of in the middle of the college season, so I was really happy with that time.”


Mckenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia) was going for what could have been her first gold in Santiago but couldn’t quite catch Colombia’s Sara Vargas, who set a Parapan American record in the women’s 100m backstroke S7. Still, the result was a positive sign for the four-time Paralympic champion who is working to get back to competition form after being out much of the summer due to medical reasons.


“The 100 back has always kind of been a third event for me; I’ve only medaled in it one other time before internationally, so going out there and winning a medal is incredible,” Coan said. “I’ve actually been playing around with some new warm-up techniques and things like that, so to be able to go out there with something new and execute like I did, I think I’m on the right track for next year (at Paris 2024).”


Now with a silver to add to her bronze from Saturday’s 400m freestyle S8 – where she swam a class up – the freestyle specialist is targeting the upcoming 50m and 100m freestyle events.


“I’ve got to complete the entire set,” Coan said.


Competition resumes Wednesday (Nov. 22) at 9 a.m. local time with the fifth day of preliminary heats. All sessions will be streamed live on the Pan Am sports channel. Follow U.S. Paralympics Swimming on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates and results throughout the competition, which runs through Nov. 25.


For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Paralympic Communications at Paralympic.communications@usopc.org.

Team USA Medals – November 21

SILVER

William Rankine – men’s 100m breaststroke SB12

Mckenzie Coan – women’s 100m backstroke S7


BRONZE

Evan Wilkerson – men’s 100m breaststroke SB12

Other Team USA Results:

Megan Gioffreda – 4th, women’s 400m freestyle S6

Connor Gioffreda – 5th, men’s 400m freestyle S6

Jonathan O’Neil – 5th, men’s 100m freestyle S8

Adin Williams – 7th, men’s 100m freestyle S8


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