2008 PARALYMPIC GAMES: U.S. Swimmers Golden after One Day of Competition

Sept. 07, 2008, 11:37 a.m. (ET)
BEIJING, China – The U.S. Paralympic Swimming Team dominated day one of swimming competition at the National Aquatics Center with four gold medals, two silver and three bronze.

Erin Popovich (Fort Collins, Colo./Silverbow, Mont.) shattered her own world record by nearly six seconds in the women’s 200m individual medley (IM) (SM7), defending her title with a time of 2:54.61. Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Bloomington, Calif.) also held on to his 200m IM (SM7) title with a world record time of 2:35.92. Newcomer Miranda Uhl (Alachua, Fla.) made her Paralympic debut in the 200m IM (SM6) with a gold medal, world record time of 3:13.05. After finishing second in this morning’s preliminary round to teammate Amanda Everlove (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Jessica Long (Baltimore, Md.) nabbed gold in the women’s 100m butterfly (S8) with a time of 1:11.96.

With the most gold medals after one day of competition, the US team has come out strong. “This was a fantastic opening day for us and a great showing from the experienced Paralympians and the rookies. The difference from four years ago is impressive,” said Julie O’Neil, head coach, US Paralympic Swimming Team. “Nine medals is a great start towards our team goal.”

“I was just trying to break three minutes and I smashed it. I saw people catching me in the backstroke and I just really turned it on. When you’re at home it’s one thing, but when you’re away representing your country on the stage, it’s indescribable. I’m so proud.”

“I was confident going into the finals. I got my best time and am happy with that. It has been a great experience. It has been amazing to be a part of Team USA and to be in Beijing.”

“I just saw how far ahead [the other swimmers] were after the breaststroke and gave it my all. I was so nervous, had so many thoughts going through my head – doubt, everything – and just locked it out. This was my first race. I’m so excited about it. It’s an amazing start to the meet.”

“It’s unbelievable. All the work I’ve been doing has paid off. I’m really happy to start off the meet this way and I’m just going to take every moment in. I haven’t seen my family yet so I’m excited to share it with them.”

“I’m pretty good at closing the deal so I guess I did that tonight. I have been thinking about this moment for a long time and it was a very tough race. I got myself a medal and that’s what I came here to do.”

Also contributing to Team USA’s medal count today were: Cheryl Angelelli-Kornoelje (Clinton Township, Mich.) – silver medal in women’s 100m Freestyle (S4), 1:50.25; Amanda Everlove (Colorado Springs, Colo.) – silver medal in women’s 100m Butterfly (S8), 1:12.16; Aimee Bruder (Birmingham, Ala.)– bronze medal in women’s 100m Freestyle (S4), 1:55.33; Cortney Jordan (Henderson, Nev.) – bronze medal in women’s 200m IM (SM7), 3:07.96; and Roy Perkins (Del Mar, Calif.) – bronze medal in men’s 100m Freestyle (S5), 1:15.31.

“For the U.S. to go 2/3 in our event is great. I definitely worked to better my time and exceeded expectations with a lifetime best. I feel good walking away and knowing it was my best time. Dara Torres is a huge inspiration – we’re both in our 40s and both the co-captains of the women’s teams…she also got two silvers in her events.”

“It’s good to be here and do it [get on the medal stand] with a teammate. We’re a team and that definitely showed through tonight. I hope there’s more to come for the rest of the team.”

“I wanted to do the same as I did today, but I did the best I could. It’s more than I expected going into this.”

Additional Results
Women’s 100m Butterfly (S13) – Kelley Becherer (Sheboygan, Wis) – 1:08.38 (6)
Men’s 100m Freestyle (S3) – Michael DeMarco (San Diego, Calif.) – 2:07.72 (7)
Men’s 100m Freestyle (S4) – Joe McCarthy (San Diego, Calif.) – 1:34.37 (7)
Women’s 200m IM (SM7) – Deb Gruen (Hamden, Conn.) – 3:27.48 (7)
Men’s 100m Freestyle (S9) – Cody Bureau (Colorado Springs, Colo./Latrobe, Pa.) – 1:02.21 (5)
Men’s 100m Freestyle (S9) – Mark Barr (Davis, Calif.) – 1:03.91 (8)

For complete swimming results, visit http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRMP/ENG/Schedule/SW.shtml.

For more information, please contact Tara Dugan Kusumoto at 139 1063 1844. If calling from the U.S., dial 011 86 plus the local number.