RIO DE JANEIRO – The medals poured in Saturday night for U.S. Paralympics Swimming at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium as Team USA won four gold and two silver medals, doubling its medal total from the previous two days of competition. Elizabeth Marks (Prescott Valley, Arizona), Roy Perkins (Del Mar, California), Becca Meyers (Baltimore, Maryland) and Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Maryland) all won gold in their respective events, with Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) and Tharon Drake (Hobbs, New Mexico) swimming to silver. Team USA now has 12 total medals in the pool at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Marks, an active duty service member of the U.S. Army, made her Paralympic Games debut during the morning session by setting a new Paralympic record in the women’s SB7 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:28.83. She then broke the world record in the evening edition with a blistering 1:28.13 to give the U.S. its first medal of the night. The mark topped teammate Jessica Long’s world record of 1:28.53, producing her first Paralympic Games medal.
"I had no idea (I was winning),” exclaimed Marks. “I can't see when I am swimming. About 25-meters in I have no idea where anybody else is. As long as I feel pressure on my hands I know it is going well. I was just hoping for the best and putting everything I had into it."
Long, who finished second in the finals race with Marks at 1:32.94, recorded her 20th career Paralympic Games medal, sending her into second place all-time for U.S. women at the Paralympic Games for individual medals. Long now owns 12 gold, five silver and three bronze Paralympic medals. She has two silvers and a bronze medal so far at the Rio Games.
Perkins once again found himself in a strenuous battle in the men’s S5 classification, this time in the 50 butterfly. Brazilian rival Daniel Dias brought the crowd to life before the race, but it was Perkins who topped the podium when all was said and done. The California native posted a time of 35.04 to win gold, giving him his first gold medal since the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games where he also won the S5 50 butterfly. Perkins found sweet redemption against Dias, who beat him in the event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Meyers notched her second gold medal in Rio with a victory in the women’s SM13 200 individual medley, finishing to the wall at 2:24.66. She won the women’s S13 100 butterfly event on the opening night of competition with a world-record performance of 1:03.25. Meyers hopes to add to her Rio medal count with the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle ahead of her. Teammate Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri) took fifth in the race with a time of 2:30.85.
Snyder dominated the men’s S11 400 freestyle final, coming in at 4:28.70 for his first gold in Rio. Snyder won silver in the men’s S11 100 backstroke the night before and has sent his Paralympic Games medal total to five with three gold and two silver medals. He successfully defended his Paralympic title in the 400 freestyle, having won the race at the London 2012 Paralympic Games one year to the day after losing his vision while serving in Afghanistan.
Drake competed alongside Snyder in the 400 freestyle final, making an impressive Paralympic Games debut with a silver medal. The significance of the debut was especially noteworthy as the originally scheduled preliminary race was pushed straight to a final. Drake touched the wall at 4:40.96 to finish ahead of Brazilian Matheus Souza who finished at 4:41.05.
Mallory Weggemann (Eagan, Minnesota) also competed in the women’s SB7 100 breaststroke with Marks and Long, finishing fifth with a time of 1:36.06. Weggemann will wrap up her fourth straight day of competition tomorrow with the women’s S8 100 freestyle and will have three more races in Rio after Sunday.
Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Bloomington, California) set an American record in the men’s SB7 100 breaststroke final with a time of 1:22.45, giving him sixth place overall. Fellow American Evan Austin (Terre Haute, Indiana) claimed eighth in the event with a time of 1:23.55. Garcia-Tolson still has the SM7 200 individual medley to come, his signature event. Austin will swim the S8 100 freestyle tomorrow before finishing with the SM8 200 individual medley on the final day of competition.
Day 4 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.
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