COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. Paralympics Spring Swimming Nationals/2013 Spring CanAm kicked off today in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota. U.S. swimmers ended the first day of the competition with a tidal wave of medals. More than 200 athletes from USA, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Iceland, Mexico and Russia will be competing through Saturday.
U.S. Paralympian Ian Silverman, who won a gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, had a stellar first day of competition, setting a world record - in the men's S10 class in the 1500m freestyle.
"My coach and I decided to go for the record in the 1500m," said Silverman. "I was able to execute my race strategy and pace throughout the race to get my first world record. After the 1500 prelim this morning, I swam a bunch of 100s to prepare for tonight, and it paid off with a win in the 100m free. I'm looking forward to the 400 free on Saturday and going for the 800 free world record tomorrow."
Men's team member Ryan Duemler (Colorado Springs, Colo.) also had a strong showing in the evening's finals, setting a new American record in the men's S8 100m freestyle with a time of 1:04.54.
Multiple records fell in the women's 50m butterfly event. Standouts included Elizabeth Smith (Muncie, Ind.), who broke the American and Pan American record with a time of 00:32:11 in the women's S9 class. U.S. Paralympian Anna Eames (Golden Valley, Minn.) won the women's S10 class in 31.76 to break the Pan American record, and Leslie Cichocki's preliminary time of 38.60 broke the American record in the women's S14 class.
Kayla Wheeler (Seattle, Wash.) set a new world record in this morning's prelims, then topped that record tonight with a time of 1:30.57 in the 50m butterfly.
"I tried something new tonight and didn't tell my coach what I was planning," said Wheeler. "I focused less on my turnover and more on the underwater pull and it really paid off. I'm super excited about my swim tonight and I look forward to the rest of the meet."
To end tonight's record breaking events Tharon Drake (Hobbs, N.M.) broke the American and Pan American records in the men's SB11 100m Breaststroke in 1:16.77.
Kelley Becherer (Sheboygan, Wis.) had a great swim in the women's 100m freestyle and looks forward to tomorrow's events saying, "I had a great senior college season which just finished. I am so happy to be so close to best times at my first Paralympic meet since London. I am looking forward to the speed in the 50m free tomorrow."
Tomorrow's events feature competition in the 50m freestyle, 200m individual medley, 200m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 50m breaststroke and 800m freestyle.
Friday's finals competition begins at 5 p.m. local time.
Live results can be found from the smart phone app "Hytek Meet Mobile" or from the results website.