What To Watch For At The 2017 World Para Swimming Championships

By Kendra Hansey | Dec. 01, 2017, 10:22 a.m. (ET)

Jessica Long returns to defend four of her titles from the 2015 world championships.

Twenty-two athletes will represent Team USA at the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City from Dec. 2-7.

Highlighting this roster are swimmers Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland), Becca Meyers (Timonium, Maryland), Tharon Drake (Hobbs, New Mexico), Tucker Dupree (Raleigh, North Carolina), Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri), Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey), McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia) and Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, North Carolina).

At the last world championships in 2015, record-breaking performances were seen across the board by these eight athletes with 13 American, eight Pan-Am, eight world championship and four world records set. These athletes combined for 16 medals.

With a stacked team gathering together in the pool beginning Saturday, here is a look at the credentials for Team USA and what to expect during the six days of competition.

Title Defenders

Twenty-three-time Paralympic medalist and 38-time world championships medalist Long returns to her sixth world championships as the reigning world champion in the 100-meter butterfly, 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley and 400 freestyle. Also returning to defend her titles is six-time Paralympic medalist and seven-time world championships medalist Meyers. She holds the champion’s title in the 400 free and 200 IM.

Returning Contenders

Seven athletes, all Paralympic medalists, return to contend for a medal.

At the 2015 world championships, Drake captured the silver medal in the 100 breast and the bronze in the 400 free.

Four-time Paralympic medalist and 13-time world championships medalist Dupree comes back for his fifth world championships after winning the bronze medal in the 100 backstroke in 2015.

Young returns for her third world championships after capturing two bronze medals in 2015 in the 100 breast and 100 back. Griswold also received the bronze medal in the 400 free and finished fourth in three other events.

A nine-time Paralympic medalist and 24-time world championships medalist, Curtis Lovejoy (Atlanta, Georgia) returns for his sixth world championships after not competing in the 2013 and 2015 world championships. In 2010, he won three golds, one silver and one bronze.

Coan, a four-time Paralympic medalist, returns after finishing fourth in the 400 free in 2015. Two-time Paralympic medalist Aspden finished at the 2015 event with three fourth-place finishes. Aspden clinched the silver medal in the free relay alongside Coan and Long.

Rising Stars

Thirteen U.S. athletes will be making their world championships debut. Among these athletes are 2017 World Para Swimming World Series gold medalists Caleb Cripe (Middlebury, Indiana), Connor Gioffreda (Timonium, Maryland), Julia Gaffney (Mayflower, Arkansas), Sophia Herzog (Fairplay, Colorado), Gia Pergolini (Roswell, Georgia), Zachary Shattuck (Mt. Airy, Maryland), Aspen Shelton (Willow Park, Texas) and Leanne Smith (Beverly, Massachusetts).   

Joining Herzog, fellow Paralympians Tye Dutcher (Merced, California), McClain Hermes (Dacula, Georgia) and Natalie Sims (Minneapolis, Minnesota) will also make their first world championships appearance.

Two other rising stars complete the team, including Roderick Sewell (San Diego, California) and Lawrence Sapp (Waldorf, Maryland).

Follow U.S. Paralympics on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updated information during the event.