Smith breaks third world record, U.S. shines on final day of world series

by Annemarie Blanco


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - After three days of action-packed swimming at the IU Natatorium, the Indianapolis 2022 Para Swimming World Series came to a close on Saturday evening with U.S. Paralympians grabbing the top spot in six of eight events. The final stop of the Para Swimming World Series circuit saw more than 120 Para swimmers from 10 nations head to the United States as athletes look to earn a berth at the upcoming world championships in Portugal this June. 

Paralympic bronze medalist Leanne Smith (Salem, Massachusetts) added another two first-place finishes to her Indianapolis collection, winning a total of five golds at the event. In addition, Smith picked up her third world record in the last three days, shaving nearly five seconds off the worlds best time in women’s 150m IM with a new record of 2:49.80. 

“It was definitely not expected,” said Smith. “Going into this morning, I had a great prelims swim and just for fun looked up what the world record was in that event and realized just how close I was to it. Coming back tonight we did some case work to it, I felt good. I just went out there and tried to have fun and end on a really high note. It’s amazing to see your hard work pay off.”

Paralympic champion Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, North Carolina) picked up her first gold in Indiana grabbing a win in the 100m backstroke, the same event that brought her to the top of the podium in Tokyo. Teammates and fellow Tokyo gold medalists Elizabeth Marks (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Gia Pergolini (Atlanta, Georgia) joined her on the podium taking second and third place respectively. 

“I feel great,” said Aspden. “It’s amazing to be back at this pool after a couple of years and see everybody, bring everyone back together and get to race in this amazing facility. To have spectators and fans here watching, it was just a really fun weekend.”

For five-time Paralympian Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Colorado Springs, Colorado), the world series stop and gold in today’s men’s 200m IM coined a special end and full circle moment from where his career began. 

“My expectations were to swim fast and prepare myself for world championships hopefully,” said Garcia-Tolson. “This is definitely my last national championship, I was here in 1998 for the first time so it’s almost a bittersweet ending to where I started when I was about eight years old.”

Fellow U.S. Paralympic gold medalists Anastasia Pagonis (Long Island, New York) and Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey) each swam to their own top podium places on the grand finale with Pagonis taking the 200m IM top spot and Griswold repeating his Tokyo win in the men’s 100m backstroke. 

“Getting back into a meet for the first time since Tokyo and being a selection for worlds, coach Nathan and I decided that it would be best to roll through this meet without much rest,” said Griswold. “We’ve been working really hard in training and trying to do the details right. That was an added challenge with being used to getting a little more rest before these meets but I think it’s something I will take confidence and learning experiences from.” 

The 2022 Para Swimming World Series had a total of five stops in this year’s circuit bringing swimmers across the globe with the end goal of world championship spots on the line. U.S. Paralympics Swimming will review all results from the year to determine the world championship team which will be announced by April 15. For full results from Indianapolis, click here


Women’s 50m Backstroke S1-5

  1. Leanne Smith, S3

Men’s 50m Backstroke S1-5

  1. Alberto Abarza, S2 (CHL)

  2. Abbas Karimi, S5 

  3. Jeremy Jurado, S5 (PAN)

Women’s 200m IM S5-14

  1. Anastasia Pagonis, S11

  2. Ahalya Lettenberger, S7

  3. Jessica Long, S8 

Men’s 200m IM S5-14

  1. Rudy Garcia-Tolson, S7

  2. David Gelfand, S9

  3. Morgan Ray, S6

Women’s 150 IM S1-4

  1. Leanne Smith, S3 - WORLD RECORD 

Men’s 150m IM S1-4

  1. Patricio Lopez Fernandez (DOM)

Women’s 100m Backstroke S2-14

  1. Hannah Aspden, S9

  2. Elizabeth Marks, S6

  3. Gia Pergolini, S13 

Men’s 100m Backstroke S1-14

  1. Robert Griswold, S8

  2. Parker Egbert, S14

  3. Alberto Abarza, S2 (CHL)