Anastasia Pagnois, David Abrahams dazzled in records on swimming trials finale
by Heather Ward
MINNEAPOLIS – Paralympic hopefuls collectively strung together competitive performances to make their case for a spot on the Team USA roster. David Abrahams (Havertown, Pennsylvania), Jamaal Hill (Inglewood, Calif.), Anastasia Pagonis (Long Island, NY), and Lawrence Sapp (Waldorf, Md.) all broke records on the final day of the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials.
Abrahams shot out of the blocks in the 100-meter butterfly and earned an American record with a time of 1:00.15 and his 50 split marked an Americas record 27.21 in the S13 category. Abrahams recently completed his freshman year on the Harvard men’s swimming and diving team in the 2019-20 season and has transitioned to the adaptive sports seamlessly this season, as he posted an Americans record in the 200m IM at 2:14.68.
Sapp made a statement in his Paralympic trials debut by grabbing two American records after breaking onto the scene in the 2017 world championship circuit with a gold medal in the 100m backstroke. Sapp grabbed both the 200 individual medley (2:17.44) and the 100m butterfly (56.10) American records (2:17.44) in the SM14 category.
World record holder Pagonis broke two additional records on the final day of competition, continuing to make her mark as an up-and-coming star in the sport. Pagonis is ranked first in the world in the 200 IM SM11 and lowered her time by breaking the American record at 2:46.81. The 16-year-old also earned the Americas and American records with a time of 31.17 in the 50m freestyle S11.
Hill broke the American record and posted the third-best time in the world when he swam a 25.34 in the 50 freestyle S9. In his third year of Paralympic competition, Hill is closing in on the world record (24.00) already and is looking for his opportunity in Tokyo.
Two-time Paralympic medalist Elizabeth Mark (Prescott Valley, Ariz.) relied on her veteran experience and training expertise as she broke the 200 IM Pan American Record (3:01.82) in SM6 and the 50 freestyle American record (34.52) in the S6 category.
The U.S. Paralympic Team for swimming will be announced on Sunday, June 20, on USParaSwimming.org.
“It's been amazing. I'm so excited to be here and to be able to experience this, and swim fast and have fun. So I've only been swimming as an S11 for a little over a year, so it's definitely been something different for me, but that's something that I work on every practice with my coach, and the more I do it, the more muscle memory, the better. I'm so excited. Just to be able to say I could be going to Tokyo is mind boggling.”
“Oh man, it's been a lot of fun, honestly. It was my first time racing in a while, so it's great to just get back in and get back to my favorite part of the sport. I think so, yeah. It's been quite the search to try to find my third event, hopefully for Tokyo. I think right now that's my intended race, other than the one breast and the two IM. It'll be crazy. I've already gotten a lot of support from my friends, my family. Obviously, I can't thank them enough for all that. I'm hoping a nice FaceTime call with my brother and my dad, and probably just getting ready for tomorrow and mentally preparing.”
I still really love the sport of swimming. I love improving and I'm still learning. So that keeps me going. I've been living out at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center training just everyday in and out, but I am so happy to get back with my family. I actually get so excited. I love that the paralympic movement is growing. I love all the people that paved the way and continue to pave the way. So I'm enjoying the ride and I just can't wait to see where it goes. So confident it's amazing to see the next generation coming up and swimming some really fast times.”