Leanne Smith surprises herself smashing world records in Indianapolis

US Para swimmer bags five golds medals and sets three new world marks as World Series returns to IU Natatorium after three years 11 Apr 2022
A female Para swimmer with a white cap swimming breastroke
USA's Leanne Smith set three world records at the Indianapolis 2022 Para Swimming World Series
ⒸPeter Bick / US Para Swimming
By Victor Pereira | For World Para Swimming

The Para Swimming World Series returned to Indianapolis, USA after three years and had all ingredients of a breath-taking event – three action-packed days, plenty of extraordinary performances from Paralympic medallists and smashed world records breaking.

USA’s Leanne Smith seemed insatiable and leading the medals ranking by grabbing five golds was not enough for her. 

Right on the first day of competition on 7 April (Thursday), Smith showed how strongly she is getting ready for the World Championships in Madeira, Portugal in June.

After grabbing her first Paralympic medal in the 100m freestyle S3 at Tokyo 2020, Smith triumphed in the women’s 100m freestyle in Indianapolis but she also set a new world record* (1:29.83) in the S3 class. 

Minutes later in the same evening, the Paralympic medallist grabbed her second gold and took home a second world record* in the 200m freestyle with a time of 3:15.85.

“I was definitely not expecting that today at all, so it was really nice to just get the nerves out of the way and roll away with two records at the end of the day”, celebrated Smith who also bagged other three golds in the following days – in the women’s 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke and 150m Medley, in which she also set a S3 new world record* (2:49.80).


For many athletes, Indianapolis 2022 was the first competition since the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. And there was no better way to celebrate the victory in Japan than grabbing more gold medals.

At least that was what two-time Paralympic champion Robert Griswold did with wins in the men’s 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke. 

“Learning how to make this sport sustainable to me and being balanced through my Journey to Paris [2024 Paralympic Games] is an important task and an important stepping stone for that but I love the Journey. I live for the process, so I am excited for what is yet to come”, said Griswold.

Matthew Torres (400m medley), Elizabeth Marks (50m butterfly), Morgan Stickney (400m medley), Hannah Aspden (100m backstroke), and the 17-year-old Anastasia Pagonis (200m medley) repeated their performances of Tokyo 2020 and bagged gold medals in Indianapolis.


Indianapolis 2022 World Series goes down in Abbas Karimi’s history as his first time competing as a USA citizen – the 25-year-old swimmer was born in Afghanistan and competed as a member of the Refugee Paralympic Team at Tokyo 2020. 

He moved to the US in 2016 and Indianapolis marked his first competition representing his new country. Karimi did it in style grabbing gold in the men’s 50m butterfly.

“It’s just unbelievable, I’m still in disbelief [that] after nine and a half years, I finally got my citizenship and I’m just living my dream and so excited for what’s next for me”, said the USA swimmer.


The hosts were represented by more than half of the event’s attendance. The numbers were naturally reflected on the podiums, but the visitors also topped the podium during the three days of competition in Indianapolis.

Chile’s Alberto Abarza triumphed in three finals at the World Series. The 37-year-old Paralympic champion led the way in the men’s 50m backstroke, and the 50m and 200m freestyle. 

In the men’s 150m medley, Dominican Republic’s Patricio Fernandez was the winner.

Indianapolis was the fifth stop in the 2022 Para Swimming World Series after Aberdeen, Melbourne, Lignano Sabbiadoro and Berlin. 

The next major event in the World Para Swimming is the World Championships in Madeira from 12 to 18 June.

Complete results can be found here

*World records to be ratified by World Para Swimming.