RIO DE JANEIRO – Two individual swimmers and a relay dazzled for Team USA Thursday night at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium as Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Maryland) set a world record in the men’s S11 100-meter freestyle to win gold and Sophia Herzog (Fairplay, Colorado) earned her first Paralympic Games medal with a silver in the women’s SB6 100 breaststroke. The cherry on top proved to be the women’s 4x100 34 pt. freestyle relay that added another silver from McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia), Lizzi Smith (Baltimore, Maryland), Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) and Michelle Konkoly (Eagleville, Pennsylvania). American swimmers now own 12 gold, 11 silver and seven bronze medals after the eighth day of competition.
Snyder constructed a race for the ages in the 100 freestyle, mesmerizing the crowd with a scorching time of 56.15. The time broke a 30-year-old world record of 56.67 held by fellow U.S. Paralympian, John Morgan. The U.S. Navy veteran left the competition in his wake to notch his third gold of the Rio Games after claiming first in the 400 freestyle and 50 freestyle earlier in the meet. Snyder also defended his Paralympic title in the event and passed a personal single-Games gold medal total with the victory, having won the 400 and 100 freestyle at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
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A determined Herzog collected the second individual medal for Team USA, racing her way to a silver after being seeded third in the 100 breaststroke, setting a time of 1:36.95. Herzog, who is a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was the first to touch the wall at the 50-meter mark and continued to press forward to finish ahead of Great Britain’s Charlotte Henshaw by nearly a second for the silver. The medal marks the first of her Paralympic career, having made her Paralympic debut in Rio. She will swim the 100 freestyle on Saturday.
“I have had a couple of races this week to get the nerves out of the system and I reached the 200 meter individual medley final, which I used to practice for this,” Herzog noted. “It has all been focused on this. I have trained so hard for this race. It is so surreal.”
The U.S. women’s 4x100 34 pt. freestyle relay took home the silver medal with a time of 4:20.10, earning the first U.S. relay medal of the Games. The quartet of Coan, Smith, Long and Konkoly solidified the second-place effort, only falling to Paralympic champions Australia who set a world record with a 4:16.65.
The silver gave Coan her third medal of the Rio Games, Smith her first Paralympic Games medal, Long her 22nd career medal, and Konkoly her third medal in Rio. The U.S. women have now won silver in back-to-back Paralympic Games.
Smith also raced to a fourth-place time of 1:09.22 in the women’s S9 100 butterfly. She fought hard for bronze until the end, but was narrowly out-touched by .01 of a second as Zsofia Konkoly claimed bronze. Smith swims the 100 backstroke tomorrow.
Reilly Boyt (Fort Collins, Colorado) swam alongside Herzog in the women’s SB6 100 breaststroke, finishing to the wall at 1:44.95 for sixth. The University of California – San Diego student-athlete is now finished with her individual events in Rio.
Cassie Mitchell (Warner, Oklahoma) took seventh in the women’s S2 50 backstroke at 1:28.19, her first and only event in the pool. Mitchell, a two-sport athlete who earned a silver in the women’s F52 discus throw and bronze in the women’s F51 club throw in Rio, made her debut in the evening edition with her preliminary race being pushed straight to a final.
Letticia Martinez (Las Cruces, New Mexico) reached the wall in eighth place for the women’s S11 100 freestyle event with a mark of 1:14.09. She will complete her individual events tomorrow with the 200 individual medley.
The swimming competition continues on Friday 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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