Evan Austin celebrates winning his first Paralympic gold medal in Tokyo. (Photo: Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – U.S. Paralympics Swimming today announced the 42 athletes named to its 2022 national team. The 25 women and 17 men that make up the roster range from seasoned Paralympic medalists returning for another shot at the podium to young up-and-coming stars ready to make their mark on the sport. The team will be competing this season with its focus on June’s 2022 World Para Swimming Championships in Madeira, Portugal.
“We are excited to have many of the stars of the Tokyo Paralympic Games returning for 2022 and beyond,” Erin Popovich, director of U.S. Paralympics Swimming, said. “At the same time, we have a contingent of athletes looking to make their mark on the international stage for the first time. It makes for a great blend of experience, and it will be exciting to see how it plays out in the first year of this shortened Paralympic quad.”
Led by Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) with four, Team USA brought home 35 medals at last summer’s Paralympic Games. Long, a 27-time Paralympic medalist, returns to the national team in 2022 alongside many of her fellow Tokyo standouts.
Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey) set a world record en route to a double-gold performance in Tokyo, his second Paralympic Games. The 25-year-old already has nine world championship medals to his name, and will look for more in Portugal.
Fellow Tokyo double gold medalists Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, North Carolina), Morgan Stickney (Cary, North Carolina), Mikaela Jenkins (Evansville, Indiana) and Mallory Weggemann (Eagan, Minnesota) also make their returns to the international stage. Weggemann, one of the veterans of the team, has accumulated 17 world championship medals – including 15 golds – over her storied career. Aspden and Jenkins have won four and three medals, respectively, at their previous world championship competitions.
Teenagers Anastasia Pagonis (Long Island, New York) and Gia Pergolini (Atlanta, Georgia) became overnight stars of the Tokyo Paralympics after each setting a world record and taking gold on the same night during their Paralympic debuts. Pagonis also picked up a bronze in Tokyo as she focuses on making her world championship debut.
Evan Austin (Terre Haute, Indiana), McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia) and Elizabeth Marks (Colorado Springs, Colorado) are the other Tokyo champions returning to the national team. Marks, a Sgt. First Class in the U.S. Army and decorated Paralympic swimmer, will look to defend her 100-meter backstroke title earned at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships. She also won gold in the event to go along with the silver and bronze she earned in Tokyo. Both three-time Paralympians, both Coan and Austin took home two medals in Tokyo – Austin’s gold and bronze were the first Paralympic medals of his career.
Other Paralympic medalists returning to the 2022 national team include David Abrahams (Havertown, Pennsylvania), Julia Gaffney (Mayflower, Arkansas), Ahayla Lettenberger (Glen Ellyn, Illinois), Sophia Herzog (Fairplay, Colorado), Elizabeth Smith (Muncie, Indiana), Leanne Smith (Salem, Massachusetts), Matthew Torres (Ansonia, Connecticut) and Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri). Gaffney, Herzog, Lizzi Smith, Leanne Smith and Young all have won multiple world championship medals in their careers.
Tokyo Paralympians Parker Egbert (Greenwood, South Carolina), Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Colorado Springs, Colorado), McClain Hermes (Dacula, Georgia), Keegan Knott (Lake Villa, Illinois), Makayla Nietzel (Crystal Lake, Illinois), Joey Peppersack (Hopewell, Virginia), Martha Ruether (Allegany, New York), Summer Schmit (Stillwater, Minnesota), Zachary Shattuck (Mt. Airy, Maryland), Lawrence Sapp (Waldorf, Maryland) and Natalie Sims (Edina, Minnesota) also make their returns to the international stage after competing at the highest level last summer.
Rounding out the national team, 11 Paralympic hopefuls qualified based on their results from 2021 U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Championships or other competitions throughout the past year.
National team athletes will compete in a series of World Para Swimming world cup competitions, including a domestic stop in Indianapolis, Indiana, this spring leading up to the world championships in June. Follow U.S. Paralympics Swimming on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for results and updates from the season.
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2022 National Team Roster