Records fall as Team USA brings home ten medals on opening day of Lewisville world series
by Kristen Gowdy
Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri) and David Abrahams (Havertown, Pennsylvania) led Team USA on the first day of the Lewisville 2021 Para Swimming World Series, breaking the women’s and men’s American and Americas records in the 100m breaststroke SB13, respectively. Young’s 1:15.61 swim shattered her own record set in Berlin in 2019, while Abrahams finished in 1:04.07 to take over the men’s records in the event. Anastasia Pagonis, looking to qualify for her first Paralympic team, also broke the American and Americas records in the S11100m freestyle event, earning a silver medal in the process.
On the first day of the first meet in more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Young and Abrahams weren’t the only Team USA athletes to shine. Leanne Smith (Salem, Massachusetts) and McKenzie Coan (Clarksville, Georgia) each brought home a gold medal in the women’s 50m breaststroke and women’s 100m freestyle. In a mixed-class event, medalists were determined across classes by total World Para Swimming points rather than finish times, making the wins even more impressive. Young, Abrahams, Smith and Coan were the top finishers in their entire events, not just their class.
For Smith, the win was validated by the fact that it came a year to the day after she had emergency surgery that left her in the hospital for eight weeks last April. The 2019 world champion said overcoming that adversity made the gold medal even sweeter.
Lawrence Sapp (Waldorf, Maryland) swam his way to a silver medal in the men’s 200m freestyle. Sapp is looking to qualify for his first Paralympic team this summer.
Rounding out the medal haul was Zachary Shattuck (Greenbelt, Maryland), Sophia Herzog (Fairplay, Colorado), Leslie Cichocki (Palos Hills, Ill.) and Natalie Sims (Edina, Minnesota), who each earned a bronze medal for Team USA.
Competition continues tomorrow with another full day of racing. Preliminary heats begin at 9 a.m. CST and finals begin at 5 p.m. CST. All races will be live streamed on the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Facebook page and on USParaSwimming.org.
TEAM USA MEDALS – DAY 1
- David Abrahams (men’s 100m breaststroke)
- McKenzie Coan (women’s 100m freestyle)
- Leanne Smith (women’s 50m breaststroke)
- Colleen Young (women’s 100m breaststroke)
- Anastasia Pagonis (women’s 100m freestyle)
- Lawrence Sapp (men’s 200m freestyle)
- Leslie Cichocki (women's 200m freestyle)
- Sophia Herzog (women’s 100m breaststroke)
- Zachary Shattuck (men’s 100m breaststroke)
- Natalie Sims (women’s 100m freestyle)
“It’s exciting. I didn’t know how I was going to swim, just because I haven’t raced in so long. For me, it’s been 14 months, so to come back and get a best time by almost a second is incredible and shows that all the hard work I’ve been doing in practice is paying off. I missed racing so much. Just to be back in a meet and being in the meet atmosphere is incredible.”
“It felt great to be back in the water. It’s been almost a year since I’ve had any reason to suit up and get after it, so just great to be able to get that feeling back and get that drive back. I’m looking forward to experiencing something new [as he looks to qualify for Tokyo this summer] and competing at a level I’ve never competed at before.”
“It feels so good to come back and win gold. It makes you appreciate it so much more. It’s so good to be back. We didn’t know if this would be possible a year ago, and I’m just looking forward to the rest of the meet and hopefully Tokyo this summer. I’ve missed the grind. I love coming in every single day and working hard and seeing the results.”
“This one means a lot to me. Last year was a particularly rough year. On this exact day last year, I went in for an emergency surgery that ended up leading to an eight-week stay at an inpatient facility. It was really hard to rehab back to just my baseline, and then to add swimming in on top of that took quite some work and effort from not only myself, but a lot of people. This is really special.”
For full results from the 2021 Lewisville Para Swimming world series, please visit https://www.teamusa.org/usparaswimming/results.
Follow U.S. Paralympics Swimming on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for Team USA’s latest news and updates.
Please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.firstname.lastname@example.org for photo and footage requests.