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Allison Schmitt Returns To Top Of Podium For First Time Since 2012 Olympics On Controversial Night Of Swimming

By Sarah Higgins | July 16, 2015, 2:34 a.m. (ET)

Allison Schmitt reacts after winning the women's 200-meter freestyle at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games on July 15, 2015 in Toronto.

TORONTO -- For Allison Schmitt’s first major international competition since 2012, just competing wasn’t good enough. She had to, well, make a splash at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

The six-time Olympic medalist claimed the first gold medal for Team USA in the pool and smashed a 36-year-old Pan American Games record as she won the 200-meter freestyle.

Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.

“It’s been quite the journey,” said Schmitt, who is competing at her first Pan Am Games. “Being here representing the U.S. and then coming home with the gold medal is even better. It’s a special one for me.”

Schmitt earned gold in 1:56.23 to oust Cynthia Woodhead’s 1979 Pan American Games record of 1:58.43 by more than two seconds.

“It’s great to hit a time that I haven’t hit in a few years,” Schmitt said.        

Canada’s Emily Overholt took silver and Brazil’s Manuella Lyrio won bronze.

Schmitt wasn’t the only U.S. woman to shine as Annie Lazor and Youth Olympian Clara Smiddy earned bronze medals in the 200-meter breaststroke and 200-meter backstroke, respectively.

Also on Wednesday, Sean Lehane and Carter Griffin took first and second place in the men’s 200-meter backstroke.

Lehane, who started off the morning with a Pan American Games record-breaking time of 1:57.17, was excited to keep his momentum rolling into the evening session.

Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.

“I’m so glad we were both able to get our hands on the wall 1-2,” Lehane said. “For Carter and I, the rookies, to go 1-2 is really great for Team USA.”

“I started off smooth and then the last 50 meters, I came home really well,” Griffin said. “Our motto this week was ‘make a statement,’ and I think Sean and I went out and really made a big one.”

Michael Weiss earned bronze in the men’s 200-meter freestyle, adding to his 4x100-meter freestyle bronze medal from Tuesday.

Weiss injured his finger on the finish of the 200 free final and had his fingers taped for treatment heading into the 4x200-meter freestyle. The U.S. finished second in the relay, but third-place Canada protested the finish because placing tape on a swimmer’s body is against the international federation’s rules. Canada was then awarded silver and Venezuela moved up to bronze-medal status.

As of late Wednesday night, Team USA appealed the disqualification and the appeal was accepted and approved, granting the silver medal to the U.S. and awarding Canada the bronze.

Weiss was joined in the relay by Gunnar Bentz, Michael Klueh and Darian Townsend.

Team USA ended the night at the Pan Am Aquatic Center with seven medals, bringing  its two-night total in the pool to two golds, five silvers, and four bronzes.

Related Athletes

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Allison Schmitt

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Annie Lazor

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Clara Smiddy

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Sean Lehane

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Carter Griffin

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Michael Weiss

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Gunnar Bentz

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Michael Klueh

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Darian Townsend