Female swimmers shine on final day of 2012 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials

By Beth Bourgeois | June 16, 2012, 10 p.m. (ET)

BISMARCK, N.D. – Five more world records fell on Saturday, the final day of competition at the 2012 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials. At the conclusion of three days of competition, a total of 99 American, 37 PanAm and 12 world records were set at the Bismarck State College Aquatic and Wellness Center.

Standout Jessica Long (Baltimore, Md.) set her fifth world record of the meet in the women’s 200m IM (S8) in 2:37.71 in the morning prelims. During evening finals competition, Long shaved more than a second off her time finishing in 2:36.00 with her sixth world record of the meet.

“It’s exciting, I just feel really blessed and love what I do,” said Long.

Mallory Weggemann (Eagan, Minn.), who is looking to make her Games debut in London, also set a world record in the women’s 50m butterfly with a time of 33.81.

“Swimming has really saved me,” said Weggemann. “It wasn’t long after I became paralyzed that I remember sitting at the trials before Beijing and watching the competition with my sister and wondering what would lie ahead for me. It’s been an amazing journey, and I’m excited for that next step – to find out the team for London.”

Paralympic Swimming Resident Team member Ileana Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.), who lives and trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., was also excited about her performance at trials.

“In all of my events, I swam my best times yet,” said an excited Rodriguez. “That’s the best a swimmer can ask for – to continue improving.”

She’s especially excited about tomorrow’s team announcement for London. Rodriguez, a U.S. naturalized citizen originally from Cuba, hopes to make her Paralympic Games debut wearing the red, white and blue.

“I lived in Cuba for 13 years, and just as long in the U.S., so I consider it home. It’s a dream of mine to make the team and swim for the U.S. in London.”

Among the standout performers emerged a few, new faces. Like Victoria Arlen (Exeter, N.H.). Arlen, who set a world record on day one of the competition in the 400m freestyle (S6), racked up a second new record in tonight’s women’s 100m freestyle (S6) in 1:14.74.

“Both were totally unexpected,” remarked Arlen. “I just swam the best I could and was so excited to see my time. “

Sixteen-year-old Reilly Boyt (Fort Collins, Colo.) also showed marked improvement in all of her events including tonight’s 200m IM (S6) finals. Boyt and U.S. Paralympian Miranda Uhl (Gainesville, Fla.) battled to the finish line, with Boyt narrowly missing the first place finish. Uhl won in 3:28.16, and Boyt was right on her heels in 3:28.71.

In men’s competition, Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Bloomington, Calif.), who holds the world record in the 200 IM (SM7), turned in a strong performance in tonight’s finals finishing in 2:36.40, just off of his world mark of 2:35.92.

Another newcomer to Paralympic swimming is Lt. Brad Snyder (St. Petersburg, Fla.), U.S. Navy, who lost his vision as the result of an IED blast while deployed in Afghanistan in Sept. 2011. In the prelims of the men’s 200m IM (S11), posted a time of 2:36.84. A few hours later in finals, he went 2:32.31, ranking him No. 6 in the world in the event.

Snyder also earned a No. 1 ranking in the world in the men’s 100m free (S11) with a time of 57.75.

Sixteen-year-old Ian Silverman (Baltimore, Md.) also had an impressive showing at trials. Silverman, who is new to Paralympic swimming won the men’s 200m IM (S10) race with a time of 2:21.18.

Evan Austin (Terre Haute, Ind.) also made his presence known at trials. Austin took first place in the men’s 200m IM finals (SM8) in 2:38.17.

The 2012 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Team will be nominated on Sunday; 20 female and 14 male athletes will earn their tickets to the 2012 Paralympic Games. More than 4,000 athletes with a physical or visual disability from more than 160 countries are expected to compete.

Complete competition results can be found online at www.bismarckaquatics.com/hytek/results/evtindex.htm.

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