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McKenzie Coan, Robert Griswold Defend Para Swimming World Titles In London

By Olivia Truby | Sept. 10, 2019, 5:50 p.m. (ET)

(L-R) Ahalya Lettenberger and McKenzie Coan posing with their medals after the women's 400-meter freestyle S7 final at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships on Sept. 10, 2019 in London.


LONDON – McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia) and Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey) each defended their respective 2017 world titles on Tuesday to highlight the second day of competition at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships at the London Aquatics Center in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.


Highlights From The Pool

Defending his crown – Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey) successfully defended his world title from 2017, swimming to the gold medal in the men’s 100-meter backstroke S8 in a time of 1:03.47. Griswold finished nearly six seconds ahead of second-place finisher Jesse Aungles from Australia.

Team USA in the top two – McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia) and Ahalya Lettenberger (Glen Ellyn, Illinois) finished first and second place, respectively, in the women’s 400 freestyle S7. Coan successfully defended her title from 2017, winning the gold medal in 5:09.58, while this was the first major international podium for Lettenberger.

Repeating history – En route to her first medal of the world championships, Lizzi Smith (Muncie, Indiana) swam to the bronze medal in the women’s 100 back S9. The podium finish marks her first individual medal since 2013, where she similarly won bronze in the 100 back S9 at the 2013 world championships.

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Team USA Results (Sept. 10)

5 medals (2 gold, 2 silvers, 1 bronze)

Gold (2): McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Ga.), women’s 400 free S7 (5:09.58); Robert Griswold (Freehold, N.J.), men’s 100 back S8 (1:03.47)

Silver (2): Ahalya Lettenberger (Glen Ellyn, Ill.), women’s 400 free S7 (5:15.90); Gia Pergolini (Roswell, Ga.), women’s 100 back S13 (1:06.82)

Bronze (1): Lizzi Smith (Muncie, Ind.), women’s 100 back S9 (1:12.64)

Full results can be found on the World Para Swimming Championships website.



McKenzie Coan

“I feel amazing. I went out there and I had so much fun, and being right next to my two teammates was incredible. I enjoyed the race and it felt good. Going in, I knew I wanted to have a good, clean race. I knew there were some turns I needed to clean up from this morning. I think I did that on some of them, but it’s definitely going to be a piece that I’m going to work on going into next year. My speed is there in the middle, I just need to fine tune some things. I felt great out there. I know there’s more in me. I’m always eyeing that world record and it’s always on my mind. I can go back and fix the little things and we’ll be ready.”

Robert Griswold

“I was super happy with it. I was kind of all over the place in the lane, and that’s on me, that’s something I need to fix. Otherwise, I’m super happy with it and super blessed to have the world championship title and be defending it from 2017. I wanted to do my best, but I want to hand it to those guys. They’re some of my best friends and I enjoy competing with them. I wanted to do the best I could. It’s always a good race no matter who’s in there. It’s not necessarily about the times, it’s about the people you’re competing with, and those are some great guys in there.

Lizzi Smith

“Backstroke hasn’t been a main focus up until the last two weeks, and it was mostly to help the relay. What happened out there is proof that you should swim hard, because you don’t know what will happen. It’s my first individual medal since 2013, so it feels good to be back at that place and see the training pay off.


U.S. Paralympics Swimming Medal Count

10 medals (5 golds, 4 silvers, 1 bronze)

Gold (5): Evan Austin (men’s 50 fly S7), McKenzie Coan (women’s 400 free S7), Robert Griswold (men’s 100 back S8), Becca Meyers (women’s 400 free S13), Mallory Weggemann (women’s 50 fly S7)

Silver (4): Julia Gaffney (women’s 50 fly S7), Jessica Long (women’s 100 free S8), Ahalya Lettenberger (women’s 400 free S7), Gia Pergolini (women’s 100 back S13)

Bronze (1): Lizzi Smith (women’s 100 back S9)


Looking Forward

Nine Team USA athletes will take to the pool tomorrow, including Griswold, Pergolini and Smith who will try to win back-to-back medals. The full schedule can be found here.


How To Watch

Fans can watch live coverage of all finals sessions on the Olympic Channel, beginning at 1 p.m. ET daily, with additional streaming online at NBCSports.com/Live or through the NBC Sports app.


Get Connected

For updates throughout the meet, follow U.S. Paralympics Swimming on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.