Long sets world record on first day of Can Am Swimming Championships

By Brianna Tammaro | March 20, 2015, 11:30 p.m. (ET)
Jessica Long competes in the women's 400m freestyle race at the 2015 Can Am Para-swimming Championships at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on Mar. 20, 2015. Long set a new world record in the event after previously setting the record three years ago at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

TORONTO — Seventeen-time Paralympic medalist Jessica Long opened the 2015 Can Am Para-swimming Championships in Toronto today without holding back, breaking a world record in the 400-meter free (S8) women’s race. Long outswam her previous mark set at the 2012 London Olympic Games by more than a second with an unofficial time of 4:40.44. 

Long (Baltimore, Maryland) also swam in the 100 butterfly preliminary race at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, finishing with a time of 1:11.15. Can Ams take place at the same venue as the 2015 Parapan American Games this summer and serve as selection trials for Parapan Am Games and the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships. 

“I’m beyond thrilled about the world record in the 400 free,” Long said. “I haven’t been able to beat my previous time for three years. It’s reassuring knowing that all of my hard work is paying off. I can’t stop smiling!”

Team USA swimmers set multiple American and Pan American records at Friday evening’s finals. Eighteen-year-old Kayla Wheeler (Lynnwood, Washington) set both an American and Pan American record with a time of 5:40.92 in the women’s 200 free S2. Wheeler previously set a world record at last year’s Can Ams in Miami for the women’s 50 butterfly. She swam a 1:45.27 in prelims and broke the record again in the finals with a 1:41.08. 

Evan Austin (Terre Haute, Indiana) also achieved both honors in the men’s 200 freestyle with a time of 1:06.28 in the S8 classification.

With Long, Wheeler and Austin’s marks, a total of six American records were set on the opening day of competition: Jesse Greve (Kissimmee, Florida) in the men’s 200 freestyle (S14), Connor Gioffreda (Timonium, Maryland) in the men’s 400 freestyle (S6) and Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey) in the men’s 400 freestyle (S8). Griswold took on the record twice, winning both in prelims and racing .8 seconds faster in finals to secure the title. 

The international event brings together over 200 athletes and more than 10 countries from around the world, including Iceland, Colombia, Costa Rica and Japan. 

Competition continues Saturday with the men’s and women’s 150m IM, 200m IM, 50m fly, 100m breaststroke and 50m freestyle races. 

Full results from the first day of the event can be found at Swimming Canada