Roundup: Swimmers React To Parapan American Games Selections

by Karen Price

Keegan Knott competes at the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Team Trials. (Photo by Joe Kusumoto/USOPC)

By Karen Price

Red Line Editorial

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!

Paralympians Returning To The World Stage

U.S. Para Swimming announced the 33 athletes who will be competing at the Parapan American Games next month in Santiago, Chile, and while many will be making their major international debuts, the meet will be a welcome back to the big stage for some familiar faces.

Three-time Paralympian Mallory Weggemann will be competing for the first time since giving birth to her daughter six months ago. The mama on a mission reacted to the roster announcement on Instagram, sharing that there was a time when she didn’t think continuing her athletic career through motherhood was an option, but as she began to see other women paving a path forward she began to dream.

Although she still faces questions about her retirement, Weggemann wrote that she’s going to keep racing “with my daughter and husband by my side and the only thing I have left to prove is to show my daughter that we are capable of whatever we are courageous enough to dream possible.

“So, come November I will get behind the starting blocks at Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile with my daughter in the stands. And I will get to look up to her and know that we are doing it, we are actively living out a life that at one point I couldn’t have even dreamed of.”

You can read her full post here:

Also returning to competition will be Evan Austin, who last competed on the international stage at the Paralympics in Tokyo, where he won his first Paralympic title in the men’s 50-meter freestyle S7, more than two years ago. He’ll be joined by 2020 Paralympic teammates McKenzie Coan, Mikaela Jenkins, Abbas Karimi, Keegan Knott, Zach Shattuck, Haven Shepherd and Natalie Sims.

Athletes who competed at the world championships this summer were not eligible to make the Parapan roster. Three-time Paralympian Coan did make that roster but was forced to withdraw for medical reasons. She wrote: 

“I’m thrilled to share I’ve been selected to represent Team USA at the Parapan American Games in Chile this November!

“After a tough few months and a challenging recovery from Bell’s Palsy, it feels amazing to be back doing what I love 🤍

“Excited and grateful to represent Team USA 🇺🇸”

Shepherd shared some flashback photos from her last Parapan experience, writing:

“So excited to have made the roster for the PARAPAN GAMES in Santiago Chili in November. 

This was one of my favorite memories of swimming so far when I went to Lima, Peru in 2019!” 

Knott wrote, “so honored to be representing team usa at my second para panam games! see you in chile 🇨🇱.”

Yaseen El Demerdash will be making his Parapan debut, and he wrote, “Super privileged and honored to announce that I have been selected to represent @teamusa at my first Parapan American Games this November in Santiago, Chile! 🇺🇸➡️🇨🇱”

Read the full announcement from U.S. Paralympics Swimming here.

Record-Setting Winnett

Another athlete who’ll be traveling to Santiago is Taylor Winnett, and she recently tied an American record in the women’s 200-meter backstroke S10 at the Fred Lamback Para Swimming Open in Georgia. The record of 2:40.88 she shares was set by Mikhaila Rutherford in 2001. She wrote: 

“I honestly think it’s really really cool to be tied and share the American Record in 200 Back. Breaking the 200 Back AR has been a little side adventure for me this season and for it to happen the day after a 12.5 hour drive (yikes traffic) is really encouraging to me. I also have been working on my self confidence and excitement while racing. Today showed me that I do not always need a perfect taper to do my best. Going into the race I wanted my splits to be a 1:18 then a 1:22, and once I flipped at the 100 mark and saw I hit a 1:18 I knew I could do it. I imagined my name next to that record for the rest of the race and it helped fuel me home. Thank you @inner.rival for giving me visualization tips!

And maybe one day I’ll break through that 2:40 barrier, but until then I’m happy to share the AR 🤠”

Pagonis Back In The Pool

Paralympic gold medalist — and social media star — Anastasia Pagonis is recovering from major shoulder surgery and taking her hundreds of thousands of followers with her on the journey. Holding up her gold medal for the camera, she posted a reel saying, “I know I can come back from this better than ever so welcome to my journey back to becoming a gold medalist swimmer, here’s day one.” 

Pagonis also recently shared a workout with Mark Wahlberg, and challenged him to a race. Check out the reel here:

Cuteness Overload

Christie Raleigh Crossley became a world champion this summer, and while her family couldn’t be there to support her in person, the swimmer recently shared a video they found that shows just how much her family was supporting her from afar:

Mermaid Tales

Let the inspiration begin! Jessica Long recently celebrated the official release of her children’s book, “The Mermaid with No Tail,” with a post and photo of her at the bookstore holding it up, writing, “I cannot believe the day has come. The Mermaid with No Tail is out today! 🧜🏼🧜🏼‍♀️

“This is years in the making and I’m SO honored to share my new children’s book with you. This wouldn’t be possible without my dad who came up with the whole idea. Thanks Dad ♥️ You truly are the best and that’s why I dedicated this bookie to you.”

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.