Santiago 2023 Parapan Am Games: All you need to know!

From a young Colombian who made her international breakthrough at the Parapan Am Games to a Brazilian-Chilean friendship/rivalry and plenty Manchester 2023 world champions, there will be a lot of stars to follow during seven days of competition at the Centro Acuatico in Santiago 17 Nov 2023
a female Para swimmer in the pool sticks her tongue out
Colombia's Sara Vargas took four gold medals in her Parapan American Games debut at Lima 2019 as the youngest athlete in the Games at only 12
ⒸLima 2019
By World Para Swimming

Nearly 150 gold medals will be up for grabs at the Centro Acuatico Estadio Nacional during seven days of Para swimming events at the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games.

The sport has been part of the Games since the inaugural edition in Mexico City 1999. Brazil completely dominated the pool in the last Parapan Am Games at Lima 2019 taking 53 gold, 45 silver and 29 bronze medals.

Here below is all you need to know about Para swimming at Santiago 2023.

The venue

The Centro Acuatico was built for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games this year and is located next to the National Stadium, inside the main competition cluster of Santiago 2023. The arena has capacity for 3,000 spectators.

The programme

Twenty-four finals will open the Para swimming programme on Saturday (18 November). The women’s 100m backstroke S6 will crown the first gold medallist at Santiago 2023. 

Para swimming fans will be able to watch 20 finals on Sunday (19), Monday (20) and Tuesday (21). The Centro Acuatico will host 24 finals on Wednesday (22) with an exciting 4x100m mixed medley relay 34 points closing the action. 

Thursday’s (23 November) schedule includes 20 finals and the last day of Para swimming events will have 21 finals. The 4x100m mixed freestyle relay 34 points will wrap up the programme in the Chilean capital on Friday (24).

Daily schedules and complete results can be found here.

Best of Brazil

Brazil will be the team to beat in the pool in Santiago after topping the standings at Lima 2019. The Brazilian delegation includes all nine world champions from Manchester 2023. 

Maria Carolina Santiago grabbed five golds in Manchester and eight medals in total. The class S12 swimmer also has four Parapan Am golds from Lima 2019 in her collection.
The Parapan American Games are very special for another Brazilian star. Gabriel Araujo made his major international debut four years ago in Lima taking two gold medals. Now a Paralympic and world champion, he will be responsible for one of the highlights at the Centro Acuatico facing home favourite Alberto Abarza in the S2 class.

Other Manchester 2023 world champions chasing more gold for Brazil are Douglas Matera (S12), Gabriel Bandeira (S14), Samuel Oliveira (S5) and Talisson Glock (S6) in men’s events, Cecilia Araujo (S8), Debora Carneiro (S14) and Mariana Ribeiro (S9) in women’s events.

More stars to watch

USA will bring four Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champions to Santiago. Evan Austin will be competing in the men’s 50m butterfly S7 that gave him gold in Japan. McKenzie Coan missed the World Championships in Manchester but is back to action. She is the reigning Paralympic champion in the women’s 400m freestyle S7.

Winner of two gold medals at Tokyo 2020, Mallory Weggeemann will be in action in the women’s 200m individual medley SM7 in Chile. Mikaela Jenkins will race two events at Santiago 2023, including the women's 100m butterfly S10 in which she was crowned Paralympic champion two years ago.

Colombia’s Sara Vargas had her breakthrough four years ago in Lima. At only 12 years of age, she was the youngest athlete in the Games and surprised herself winning four gold and one silver medals. 

Now she returns to the Parapan Am Games as the reigning world champion in the women’s 50m freestyle S7. She is one of Colombia’s gold medal hopefuls alongside experienced names such as Carlos Serrano Zarate and Nelson Crispin. The two had a great season claiming world titles in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB8 (Serrano) and men’s 200m individual medley SM6 (Crispin).

Veteran Arnulfo Castorena will lead Mexico in the pool in Santiago as he arrives in Chile as the world champion in the men’s 50m breaststroke SB2.

From refugee team to the Parapan Am Games

Abbas Karimi will be making his Parapan American Games debut in Santiago representing USA. Born in Afghanistan he was part of the Refugee Para Athlete team competing at the Mexico City 2017 and London 2019 World Championships, and at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. 

He made his international debut for USA at the World Championships in Madeira, Portugal in 2022. 

Home favourites

Eleven athletes will represent the host nation in the swimming pool. Alberto Abarza is the biggest favourite. The multi-medallist is one of the ambassadors of the Santiago 2023 Games and gave the country only its second-ever Paralympic gold at Tokyo 2020 – in the men’s 100m backstroke S2. Abarza also grabbed three gold medals at the last edition in Lima.

Other Chilean swimmers defending their titles at home are Valentina Munoz, who won the women’s 100m backstroke S8 at Lima 2019, and Vicente Almonacid, who triumphed in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB8.

A quote

“Alberto is a great person and a great competitor. We are great friends but in the water we are great rivals. I am very happy to be able to be here with Alberto as he is a reference in Chile. We will soon see who is the best.”

Brazil’s Gabriel Araujo talking about S2 rival Alberto Abarza from Chile.

How to follow

The Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games will be streamed live on the PanAm Sports Channel.

Follow all the action and the behind the scenes on the World Para Swimming channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.