Long, Wheeler and Zook make waves at U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials

By Beth Bourgeois | June 15, 2012, 10 p.m. (ET)

Justin Zook

Justin Zook, who set a world record in the men’s 100m backstroke (S9) with a time of 1:01.75 at the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Trials - Swimming, won the men's 100m Backstroke S10 Final at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

BISMARCK, N.D. — Records continued to fall on day two of the 2012 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials. Three new world records, 42 American records and 15 PanAm records were set on Friday at the Bismarck State College Aquatic and Wellness Center.

Jessica Long (Baltimore, Md.), who set three worlds records in yesterday’s competition, added a fourth world mark to her race resume today -
in the 100m butterfly (S9) in 1:10.77.

U.S. teammate Justin Zook (Plymouth, Minn.) followed suit, setting a world record in the men’s 100m backstroke (S9) in 1:01.75.

“I didn’t feel like I was going that fast, and I didn’t think it was possible at this point in my training” said Zook. “I think it
means that my coach and I are on the right track. I’m probably in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in, so training will take care of itself.”

Kayla Wheeler (Linnwood, Wash.), 15, set the third new world record of the day in the women’s 50m butterfly (S1) in 1:38.49.

“I was really hoping to break the record,” said Wheeler. “I thought I could and was really happy to see my time at the wall,” said Wheeler.

Wheeler, who will soon turn 16, has good company among the other young athletes at trials who hope to earn nominations to London.

Best friends Reilly Boyt (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Joy Stebbins (Fort Collins, Colo.), both 16, say the competition in Bismarck is tough. But
Boyt said she wouldn’t expect anything else, especially considering what’s at stake.

“This means everything to me,” said Boyt. “To make the Paralympic team and see who you’re up against from the entire world, it’s a dream of mine.
It’s a tough thing to do, but to be here at trials is really amazing.”

“It’s cool because we’re here for each other,” said Stebbins. “In the water, we help support each other and help motivate each other.”

For 16-year-old Amy Chapman (Batavia, Ill.), it’s about giving it all she’s got. Chapman, who competed at the 2008 swimming trials as a 12 year old,
 said she feels in a better position this time around.

“I’ve definitely put more pressure on myself, and I have a better shot this time,” said Chapman. “I’ve learned a lot since I was 12 and
 have grown a lot. The competition is really tough, and everyone’s swimming great, it’s been a great meet.”

The U.S. coaching staff will name a roster of 34 athletes (20 female and 14 male) on Sunday, based on performances here at trials. The team will
go on to compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, August 29 – September 9.

“As competition continues, it’s clear the depth of talent here at trials is deep,” said Queenie Nichols, meet co-director. “It’s definitely
 going to be a battle for those 34 spots on the roster for London.”

Saturday, June 16, marks the final day of trials competition. Live results can be found online at http://www.bismarckaquatics.com/hytek/results/evtindex.htm.

For more information, or to arrange athlete interviews, please contact Beth Bourgeois, U.S. Paralympics, at 719-306-5639 or beth.bourgeois@usoc.org.