Can Ams close with seven American and Pan American swimming records

By Brianna Tammaro | March 22, 2015, 9:20 p.m. (ET)
Robert Griswold competes in the men's 200-meter IM on Mar. 21, 2015 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Griswold set an American and Pan American record in the event with a time of 2:28.60.

TORONTO — The final day of the 2015 Can Am Para-swimming Championships featured seven broken American and Pan American records at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on Sunday. Team USA closed out the three days of competition with a total of 28 records: one world, 17 American and 10 Pan American records.

Can Ams serve as an international qualifier for the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships and 2015 Parapan American Games this summer in Glasgow, Scotland and Toronto, respectively. Teams will be announced by March 30 for worlds and April 6 for the Parapan Am Games.

The event began with an awards ceremony from the previous day’s best performances, featuring Team USA’s Kayla Wheeler (Lynnwood, Washington) and Roy Perkins, Jr. (Del Mar, California) as the Male and Female Swimmers of the Day. Wheeler smashed her time from the prelims by four seconds in Saturday evening’s finals, finishing with a time of 1:21.42 in the women’s 50-meter butterfly S2. On the men’s side, Perkins started the morning strong in the preliminaries with a 37.37 second 50 fly time. 

Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey) and Wheeler wrote their names in the record books twice on Sunday, earning both American and Pan American records. This is Griswold’s third American record and second Pan American record of the event for the S8 class, taking honors in the 400 free, 200 IM and today’s 100 backstroke. Wheeler earned both achievements in S2 for the 100 free as well as Friday’s 200 free. 

“It just validates that what I’m doing in training is paying off,” Griswold said. “If I have the honor of representing Team USA by being selected for worlds, it’ll be such a good stepping stone. I felt like as a team—despite having the stress of making different selections—we carried the momentum from Pan Pacs [Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships] and supported each other well. [This came] all the way from people who have been on the Paralympic podium five, ten or fifteen years to those just starting out.”

Twenty-three-year-old Michelle Konkoly of Eagleville, Pennslyvania came off Saturday’s American and Pan Am record-setting effort in the women’s S9 50 free by adding another Pan Am record to her list of accolades. She swam a 1:03.32 to take the feat in the 100 free. 

Paralympian Alyssa Gialamas (Naperville, Illinois) earned her first American record of the competition with her 1:34.31 time in the women’s 100 free S5. Gialamas competed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and took home four gold medals from last year’s Can Ams.  Garner (Madison, Wisconsin) also broke his first American record of the meet by swimming a 1:14.07 in the men’s 100 backstroke S14 in prelims. He shaved off a time of 1.12 seconds in the evening’s finals, clocking in at 1:12.95.

The meet finished with another awards ceremony to honor athletes from the day’s event and the entire competition. U.S. Navy veteran and Paralympian Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Maryland) won Male Swimmer of the Day for his swim in the men’s 100 free. Wheeler and Perkins were recognized, once again—this time as Male and Female Swimmers of the Meet for their impressive performances at the 2015 Can Ams. 

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired to keep swimming by awards and records, so it’s good to be able to get the little things along the way that help me validate my love of swimming outside of times,” Wheeler said.

Eleven countries and more than 200 athletes competed at the event. The U.S., Canada, Colombia, Iceland, Costa Rica, India, Japan, South Korea, Trinidad & Tobago, Netherlands and Mexica all sent top representatives to Toronto. 

The U.S. Paralympics Swimming season continues in Germany with the IDM Berlin Open, Apr. 16-19. 

Full results from the three days of competition can be found at Swimming Canada