RIO DE JANEIRO – The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games officially opened Wednesday evening with a memorable Opening Ceremony at Maracanã, but the fireworks continued at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium Thursday night as Team USA secured three medals on the first night of action.
Rebecca Meyers (Baltimore, Maryland) won gold in historic fashion by setting a new world record in the women’s S13 100m butterfly with a time of 1:03.25. Meyers topped the previous mark of 1:04.98, previously held by Muslima Odilav of Uzbekistan who took silver. The gold medal is the first of Meyers’ career, having won a silver and bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in her Games debut.
"It feels so amazing,” Meyers said. “I am so excited to win the first gold medal for U.S. Paralympics Swimming, and we are going to kill it for the rest of the week. I can't wait to see what everyone else does."
Her American teammates joined her in an impressive showing as Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) opened her fourth Paralympic Games with a silver medal in the women’s S8 400m freestyle, marking the 18th Paralympic Games medal of her legendary career. She now owns 12 gold, four silver and two bronze medals. Long touched the wall at 4:47.82, trailing only Lakeisha Patterson of Australia who finished with a first-place time of 4:40.33, breaking Long’s previous world record of 4:40.44.
Roy Perkins (Del Mar, California) battled with Brazilian Daniel Dias in the men’s S5 200m freestyle. The two entered the finals edition of Day 1 only .34 seconds apart after the preliminary heats, but it was Dias who swam to gold as the Brazilian faithful willed him to a time of 2:27.88. Perkins claimed silver with a mark of 2:38.56, shaving over a second off his morning swim. The medal is the California native’s seventh overall, giving him one gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey) was the first U.S. swimmer to hit the water in the evening edition and finished fifth in the men’s S8 400m freestyle final with a time of 4:36.26. It was the first of three scheduled swims for Griswold, who made his Paralympic Games debut earlier in the day.
Brickelle Bro (Castle Pines, Colorado) swam alongside Long in the women’s S8 400m free. The two-time Paralympian took seventh after posting a time of 5:16.38. Bro will be swimming the women’s S8 100m butterfly tomorrow, once again being paired with Long.
Leslie Cichocki (Palos Hills, Illinois) made the finals for the women’s S14 100m backstroke after a fantastic Games debut in the opening session. Cichocki swam her way to a seventh-place finish with a time of 1:16.76.
Tucker Dupree (Raleigh, North Carolina) christened his third Paralympic Games with an eighth-place finish in the men’s S13 100m butterfly in a time of 1:00.76. The three-time Paralympic medalist hopes to add to his haul in either the 100m backstroke or 100m freestyle later in the Games. Dupree won a silver medal in the S12 100m back at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and added two bronze medals in the S12 100m free and S12 50m free.
Alyssa Gialamas (Napperville, Illinois) began her second Paralympic Games with a seventh-place result in the women’s S5 200m freestyle. Gialamas came in at 3:15.04, dropping a second off her preliminary time. Gialamas will swim three more events at the Games with the S5 50m free, S5 50m back and S5 100m free still to come.
Training partners McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia) and Cortney Jordan (Henderson, Nevada) finished fifth and seventh respectively in the women’s S7 100m backstroke. Coan reached the wall with a time of 1:25.17 and Jordan at 1:25.95.
Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games swimming competition begins with the preliminary session, starting at 9:30 a.m. BRT/8:30 a.m. ET. Finals start at 5:30 p.m. BRT/4:30 p.m. ET.
Visit USParalympics.org/Rio2016 for more information on Team USA at the Paralympic Games, including athlete bios, schedule and live streaming. Follow the U.S. Paralympic team on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.