BEIJING, China - On day six of swimming competition, the American swimmers continue not only to visit the podium, but also to achieve numerous personal bests.
"Everyone is swimming really well and getting lifetime bests," said Julie O'Neill (Colorado Springs, Colo.), head coach, U.S. Paralympic Swimming Team. "Whether they get a medal or not, personal bests are an incredible accomplishment that everyone can go after."
After smashing her own world record by more than five seconds in the preliminary rounds (4:47.45), Jessica Long (Baltimore, Md.) returned to the pool tonight to win gold in the 400m freestyle (S8) with a time of 4:50.17. Long has set three world records and won four gold medals, one silver and one bronze during the Beijing competition.
Deb Gruen (Hamden, Conn.) also stood on the podium tonight, taking bronze in the women's 100m breaststroke (SB6) with a time of 1:46.76. Her first medal of the meet, the bronze medal means a great deal to Gruen, who will continue her time in Beijing following the Paralympic Games with a semester at Peking University through Yale's Honors Program."
"I wasn't expecting to medal. While this morning didn't go as well as I wanted, tonight was exactly right," said Gruen. "This is the start of my whole Beijing experience. My coaches are at Yale, and I share this with them, with Yale, with my family and with Team USA."
Elizabeth Stone (Grand Rapids, Mich.) finished the women's 400m freestyle (S9) in fourth place with a time of 4:46.53, dropping an astonishing 16 seconds from her qualifying time. Kelley Becherer (Sheboygan, Wis.) also posted a personal best tonight, finishing the women's 200m IM (SM13) in 2:32.21.Both Gruen and Stone set new American records.
The U.S. Swimming Team maintains its top rank in the medal standings - 14 gold, eight silver, 10 bronze - and hopes to boost their lead even further. "We're heading into a big, big day on Saturday," said O'Neill.
U.S. Results (Finals)
Men's 400m Freestyle (S8) - Tom Miazga (Cedarburg, Wis.) - 5:09.50 (8)
Women's 400m Freestyle (S8) - Jessica Long (Baltimore, Md.) - 4:50.17 (1)
Men's 100m Breaststroke (SB5) - Aaron Paulson (Portland, Ore.) - 1:42.43 (7)
Men's 100m Freestyle (S12) - Tucker Dupree (Raleigh, N.C.) - 56.16 (7)
Women's 100m Breaststroke (SB6) - Deb Gruen (Hamden, Conn.) - 1:44.00 (3)
Women's 100m Breaststroke (SB6) - Miranda Uhl (Alachua, Fla.) - 1:48.44 (6)
Women's 200m IM (SM13) - Kelley Becherer (Sheboygan, Wis.) - 2:32.21 (4)
Men's 400m Freestyle (S9) - Michael Prout (West Springfield, Mass.) - 4:29.44 (7)
Women's 400m Freestyle (S9) - Elizabeth Stone (Grand Rapids, Mich.) - 4:46.53 (4) 5:01.24 (6)
"It felt good and I felt like I was trying a lot more than this morning, so I wasn't expecting to add three seconds to my time. I don't think the third 100 [meter leg] was as strong as it should be, but I'm very proud of the gold medal. There are a lot of good competitors out there."
"Getting the bronze is so exciting. I'm thrilled. I'm excited. I'm exuberant. I'm any adjective you can think of to describe being on top of the world."
*Correction notice: please excuse the error in this morning's press release about the preliminary round results. Eight U.S. athletes (not 10 as originally reported) moved on to the finals. Mark Barr (Davis, Calif.) and Jarrett Perry (Colorado Springs, Colo./Wichita, Kan.) finished ninth and twelfth (respectively) in the men's 400m freestyle heats and did not move on to finals.
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.