“There have been so many great swimmers to swim that race and this record has held the test of time. To be the one to finally break it, it’s a huge honour.”
Team USA's Ian Silverman smashed a near 13-year-old world record in the men's 400m freestyle S10 race on Wednesday (6 August), highlighting day one of the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships in Pasadena, California, USA.
During the first day of action at Rose Bowl Aquatics Centre, the U.S. team won 27 medals, including six from the sweep of the women's 50m freestyle S9 and S13 races.
“It’s a huge accomplishment to break a world record,” Silverman said who clocked 4:03.57. “I really can’t even put it into words what it means to finally get that one. I’ve been close to it before, really close, and I am really happy to start my week with that world record. That’s the one I wanted.”
Silverman, a Baltimore native who will swim at the University of Southern California this fall, won the same event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, only months after learning about Paralympic sport.
"That world record has been a monkey on my back since I just missed it in London," said Silverman, who now holds four world records including the men’s 800m freestyle, the 1,500m free and the 400m individual medley.
When Canada's Philippe Gagnon swam the previous 400m S10 world record (4:04.20) on 7 August 7 2001, Silverman was aged just five.
“There have been so many great swimmers to swim that race and this record has held the test of time,” Silverman said. “To be the one to finally break it, it’s a huge honour.”
Silverman was joined on the podium by Canada’s Alec Elliott (4:16.61) and Team USA’s Dalton Herendeen (4:20.75).
Other world records set on day one: Australia’s Kayla Clark (1:10.25) in the women’s 100m butterfly S14 heats; Australia’s Taylor Corry (28.36) in the women’s 50m freestyle S14 heats; Brazil’s Daniel Dias (33.98) in the men’s 50m fly final; and Team Canada in the 4x100m freestyle 56 point relay with a 3:54.42.
While Silverman reigned supreme on the men’s side, the U.S. women dominated the women's 50m freestyle S9 and S13 races, sweeping the medals in both events.
Michelle Konkoly (29.40), a Georgetown swimmer competing in her first meet with Team USA,, topped country mates Elizabeth Smith (30.27) and Hannah Aspden (30.47) in the S9 event. Minutes later, Martha Ruether (28.58) beat Becca Meyers (28.63) and Colleen Young (28.80) in the S13 equivalent.
“It was awesome to sweep the medals,” Konkoly said. “Before the race, we knew it was possible to sweep with how we’ve been swimming, so we huddled together and decided to show them what Team USA is made of. Lizzie had a really great swim and Hannah dropped a ton of time today. It was really, really cool to be there with my teammates next to me.”
Four other U.S. athletes won gold medals on Wednesday. Brad Snyder, retired U.S. Navy, made his return to international swimming after a two-year hiatus by placing first in the men’s 400m free S11, an event he also won at the 2012 Paralympic Games. He topped Tharon Drake, who claimed bronze.
On the women’s side, Jessica Long and Brickelle Bro placed first and third in the women’s 100m fly S8. Meyers and Cailin Currie placed first and second in the women’s 100m fly S13. Cortney Jordan and Leanne Smith placed first and second in the women’s 50m free S7.
Alyssa Gialamas (3:12.37) set the tone for Team USA, winning a silver medal in the women's 200m freestyle S5 with an American record swim that shaved nearly five seconds off her preliminary race. "I've never been so happy to finish second," Gialamas said.
Her record mark was significantly faster than what she swam at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, where she finished fifth.
“I’m really, really excited because I have not been that fast since the Paralympics,” said Gialamas, who also finished second in the women’s 50m free with an American record 44.90. “In London, I swam a 3:15 and here, I swam a 3:12. I have been working really, really hard over the past two years and now it’s starting to show in my times.”
Lucas McCrory, in his debut meet with Team USA, followed Gialamas’ first medal by claiming the silver medal in the men's 400m freestyle S7 behind Brazil’s Italo Pereira. “There were definitely jitters with being here but this race is a long swim so once I got into it, I started to loosen up and I felt pretty good,” McCrory said.
The 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships is the largest competition of the year for U.S. swimmers. Other top events on the Road to Rio include the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain and the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, Canada which start in exactly one year’s time. The 2016 Paralympic Games are Sept. 7-18 in Rio de Janeiro.
Competition is daily from 6-10 August 6-10 with preliminaries at 09:30 and finals at 16:30 local time.
Live results are available with the Meet Mobile app.