Paralympic, world champions headline 2023 world championships roster
by Kristen Gowdy
Lawrence Sapp competes at the 2023 Para Swimming World Series in Minneapolis. (Photo: Jayme Halbritter)
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – U.S. Paralympics Swimming today announced the 22 athletes – 16 women and six men – named to the roster for the 2023 World Para Swimming Championships, which are scheduled for August in Manchester, England.
The team was selected based on results at last weekend’s Para Swimming World Series in Minneapolis, at which Team USA athletes brought home 40 medals across the three-day competition.
“After some incredible performances in Minneapolis, we are very confident in the roster that we’ll be bringing to square off against the world’s best this summer,” Erin Popovich, director of U.S. Paralympics Swimming, said. “Alongside our veteran athletes who have competed at this level before, we had some newcomers step up and earn spots on their first world championships team. We can’t wait to see them race in Manchester.”
Headlining a stacked roster for Team USA are Paralympic and world champions, led by 29-time Paralympic medalist Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland), who is set to make her eighth world championships appearance. Long has amassed 52 world championships medals in her illustrious career, including 35 golds.
After sweeping her events at the 2022 Para Swimming World Championships in Madeira, Portugal, McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia) returns looking to add to her 16 career worlds medals. Coan was a force in Madeira last summer, winning the 400-meter, 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle S7 races and adding a silver as part of the 4x100-meter relay 34 points team. The six-time Paralympic medalist secured three world series podiums in Minneapolis to secure her spot.
Another athlete returning after a dominant performance at worlds in 2022 is Paralympic silver medalist Leanne Smith (Salem, Massachusetts), who put together an unprecedented seven-for-seven performance in Madeira. Her seven golds led Team USA at the meet and gave her 10 world titles in her career.
Joining the trio of Long, Coan and Smith in the pool are a host of Paralympic and world champions. Paralympic gold medalists Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, North Carolina), Elizabeth Marks (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Morgan Stickney (Cary, North Carolina) return to the pool seeking continued success on the world stage.
Marks, a five-time Paralympic medalist, won three medals – including two gold – in Madeira last summer and will make her third world championships appearance. Stickney, meanwhile, followed her double gold performance in Tokyo with another dominant win in the women’s 400-meter freestyle in Madeira. The reigning world and Paralympic champion in the event, Stickney also recently broke the Americas Record in Minneapolis last week to secure her second worlds team berth.
Aspden, also a double gold medalist in Tokyo, is making her fourth career world championships appearances, respectively. She took silver in the 100-meter backstroke S9 in Madeira.
Three-time Paralympic medalists Lizzi Smith (Muncie, Indiana) and Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri), as well as two-time Paralympic medalist Julia Gaffney (Mayflower, Arkansas), and Paralympic silver medalist Ahalya Lettenberger (Glen Ellyn, Illinois) round out the Paralympic medalists returning to the world championships stage on the women’s side.
Young had a standout meet in Madeira last summer, earning world titles in her 100-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter individual medley races. She also snagged a gold and a bronze at last weekend’s world series en route to a spot on her sixth world championships roster. Lizzi Smith joins her Madeira teammate on the 2023 roster after a stellar performance in the women’s 100-meter butterfly in Minneapolis. Gaffney, who has amassed 12 worlds medals throughout her career, will look to add to that count in her fourth worlds appearance. Meanwhile Lettenberger, who is finishing up her last season as a student-athlete on the Rice University swim team, makes her third world championships team.
Two-time Paralympian and world champion McClain Hermes (Dacula, Georgia) will compete in her third world championships in Manchester alongside Tokyo teammate Summer Schmit (St. Paul, Minnesota), who raced in Madeira and won bronze – her first career worlds medal – in the 400-meter freestyle. They are joined by high school junior Audrey Kim (Salt Lake City, Utah), an up-and-coming teen making her second worlds roster. Kim had an impressive showing at her worlds debut in Madeira, earning silver as part of the mixed 4x100-meter freestyle relay team.
The six men on Team USA’s roster are led by Paralympic medalists Matthew Torres (Ansonia, Connecticut) and Jamal Hill (Inglewood, California). Each bronze medalists from Tokyo, Torres and Hill made their world championships debuts in Madeira, where they earned two silver medals apiece. They are joined by 2022 worlds silver medalist Morgan Ray (St. Augustine, Florida) who set an American Record in his signature 100-meter breaststroke in Minneapolis last weekend and qualified for his second worlds team.
The other veteran athlete on the men’s side, 2020 Paralympian Lawrence Sapp (Waldorf, Maryland) returns to the pool for his third world championships. Sapp had a strong showing in Minneapolis, picking up two medals, including a win in the 100-meter butterfly.
Five athletes will make their world championships debuts for Team USA, including Minneapolis standouts Olivia Chambers (Little Rock, Arkansas) and Christie Raleigh Crossley (Toms River, New Jersey), both of whom burst onto the national and international Para swimming scene in the past year.
Chambers, a sophomore at the University of Northern Iowa who was named Swimmer of the Meet at the 2022 U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Championships in December, followed that performance with a gold and two bronzes in Minneapolis to secure her spot on the world championships team. Raleigh Crossley, meanwhile, made a statement at the world series meet in Italy with a world record in the women’s 50-meter backstroke S9 before winning the 100-meter backstroke in Minneapolis.
Rounding out a stacked roster for Team USA are three additional athletes making their first appearance at world championships. Paralympic silver medalist David Abrahams (Havertown, Pennsylvania), who recently returned to training due to injury, nabbed two medals in Minneapolis and will compete at his first major international meet since the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. National team member Noah Jaffe (Carlsbad, California), a biochemistry major at Cal Berkeley, found the podium three times en route to his first major international competition roster for Team USA. Jaffe also was part of the inaugural U.S. Para team to compete at last summer’s Duel in the Pool in Australia alongside Coan, Hill and Lizzi Smith.
Making her first major international appearance for Team USA is national team member Hannah Nelson (Yankton, South Dakota). Nelson qualified for her first Para swimming national team this year and has steadily improved en route to her first worlds roster.
The 11th edition of the event, the 2023 World Para Swimming Championships kick off July 31 in Manchester, England. More than 600 swimmers from approximately 70 nations are expected to compete. Follow U.S. Paralympics Swimming on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates and results from the team.
This press release was amended 5/11 to reflect the addition of Summer Schmit, who replaces Mikaela Jenkins, on the roster. Due to academic commitments, Jenkins opted out of world championships for 2023.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.
2023 U.S. Paralympics Swimming World Championships Team
Mikaela Jenkins* (opted out due to academic commitments, replaced by Summer Schmit)
Christie Raleigh Crossley