Roundup: Swimmers Return Home From Santiago With Full Hearts, Lots Of Memories
by Karen Price
U.S. swimmers won 52 medals at the Parapan American Games, including 11 golds.
Every other week we scour the web for the latest going on in the world of U.S. Para swimming. Here’s what you missed!
Super Swimming in Santiago
The U.S. Para swimmers have returned from Santiago, Chile, with great memories, excellent preparation for the road to Paris and, oh yes, a few medals to boot.
The U.S. finished the 2023 Parapan American Games with a total of 52 medals — 11 gold, 22 silver and 19 bronze — and the winners ranged from Paralympic veterans including McKenzie Coan, Mallory Weggemann and Evan Austin, to those competing internationally for the first time, including Grace Nuhfer, Megan Gioffreda and Chloe Cederholm, the youngest member of the team at just 13 years old.
Here’s a rundown from each day of the competition:
That Gold Medal Smile
No one had to tell Haven Shepherd to smile for the camera in this post from Santiago. She wrote of her Parapan gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley:
“Well, after placing…
“4th in the 100 Back
“4th in the 100 Fly
“4th in the 100 Breast
“I am very Thankful to be GOLD in the 200 IM!!! It took me awhile but I finally GOT IT DONE!!"
Shepherd also shared a snap with teammate Mallory Weggemann and baby Charlotte, in Santiago to watch mom’s return to competition for the first time since giving birth.
“Congratulations to @malloryweggemann getting back into international competition after the birth of Miss Charlotte!! She took the bronze today in the pool but we all know she “took HOME the GOLD!”
And speaking of Mama Mallory…
Weggemann shared her thoughts before heading to Santiago, along with a family photo, saying, “I want Charlotte to look to a Mama who knows the power of her own flames, a Mama who showcases her strength by believing in herself and all she is, a Mama who leads by example in knowing that her accomplishments don’t define her but the impact she has does.”
Read her whole post here:
Also returning to competition in Santiago was Tokyo gold medalist Evan Austin. Austin took a break from swimming following the Paralympics to focus on other professional pursuits, but he told USParaSwimming.org after winning gold and setting a Parapan Am record in the 50-meter butterfly S7 that he plans to defend his medal in Paris.
He wrote on Instagram: “Always proud to represent Team USA. Santiago, you’ve been excellent. This is just the beginning.
“NOW WE GO!”
El-Demerdash Raring To Go
Another athlete hoping to use the success of Santiago as a springboard to Paris is Yaseen El-Demerdash. The Paralympic hopeful took bronze in the 50-meter freestyle S10, silver in the 100-meter freestyle S10 and gold in the 100-meter backstroke S10 before topping things off with a silver in the mixed relay team. He wrote:
“The last two weeks have been the culmination of months of planning and training. I am so unbelievably grateful for the amazing support team I have in the form of my family, coaching staff, and friends. Without them, none of this would be possible. I can't wait to carry this momentum into 2024 and see what we can do! This is just the beginning.”
Sharing Her Gratitude
Grace Nuhfer competed internationally for the first time in Santiago and won silver in the 50-meter freestyle S13. She also set a Parapan American Games record with her time of 27.90 seconds.
The University of Akron swimmer wrote, “For me, these past two weeks have been filled with so many new beginnings. Creating new friendships, cheering on new teammates, visiting a new country, swimming in new pools, trying new food… the list really goes on. And as I’m reflecting back over it all, I just can’t help but feel so overcome by gratitude. Not only grateful for all of these new relationships, experiences and memories, but also for all the people in my life who support me and have encouraged me to believe in myself.”
Read her whole post here:
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to USParaSwimming.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.