By Sharon Robb
August 29, 2014—It was a great day for Florida swimmers in the international spotlight at the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships at Kihei Aquatic Center in Maui, Hawaii.
Emily Kopas of Swim Fort Lauderdale, competing in her first major international meet for Team USA, won the “B” final of the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:09.35, lowering her seed time of 1:09.94. Her time would have placed her fourth in the championship final.
Kopas was fourth fastest qualifier in the 100-meter breaststroke in prelims but was dropped into the “B” final after two of her teammates, Lilly King and Jorie Caneta, qualified first and third respectively. Only the top two from each country qualifies for the championship finals. King (1:07.98 meet record) and Caneta (1:08.68) finished 1-2 in the finals late Thursday night.
Azura Florida Aquatics’ Mateo Gonzalez, representing Mexico, qualified for the 100-meter backstroke final on opening night in 58.71 and finished eighth in finals in 58.04.
On Friday morning, Gonzalez qualified for his second final in the 100-meter butterfly in a lifetime-best 55.03, lowering his previous best of 55.24.
Mexican teammate Andy Song An of Bolles qualified sixth in Friday morning’s prelims of the 200-meter backstroke in a lifetime-best 2:04.66, bettering his previous best time of 2:05.25.
In Thursday’s prelims, Song An was 18th in the 100-meter freestyle in 53.25. He was also a member of the 4×200-meter freestyle which finished seventh in 7:53.56.
Canada’s Alexandra Aitchison of Clearwater Aquatic Team (CAT) just missed a medal in the 200-meter freestyle placing fourth in a lifetime-best 2:00.81. She was fourth in the 800-meter freestyle in 8:41.90, another lifetime-best.
Aitchison also qualified for the 100-meter freestyle “B” final (57.91) and 400-meter individual medley “A” final (4:55.08) but scratched in order to compete for the 800-meter freestyle relay. Aitchison swam leadoff leg for the relay that finished in 8:12.75.
On Friday morning, Aitchison qualified sixth in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:15.42.
In Thursday’s night finals, Team USA continued its assault in the medal race winning seven of eight gold medals for the second consecutive night.
After the first two days, Team USA has 14 of 16 gold medals, six of 16 silver and five of 16 bronze medals. No other team is even close to the Americans.
In the girls’ 100-meter freestyle, Aussie Shayna Mack came from behind to win in 54.82 ahead of China’s Menghu Zhu.
In the boys’ 100-meter freestyle, Paul Powers and Blake Pieroni went one-two in the final for Team USA and teammate Townley Haas went best-time 49.55 in the “B” final to earn the anchor leg assignment on the 4×100-meter medley relay.
Connor Hoppe of Team USA won the boys 100-meter breaststroke in 1:01.68. He was fifth at the turn but negative split 29.49 on the final 50.
U.S. team captain Ella Eastin won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:43.13. She led from wire-to-wire.
In the boys 400-meter individual medley, Andrew Seliskar and Curtis Ogren finished one-two in the final. Seliskar won in a best time 4:16.05 followed by Ogren in a best time 4:17.70. Team USA also swept the top two places in the “B” final with Sean Grieshop and Corey Okubo.
Team USA swept the girls and boys 4×200-meter freestyle relays.
The five-day meet continues late Friday night.
Team USA leads a field of eight countries that includes Australia, Canada, China, Fiji, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand. The charter nations are the U.S., Australia, Japan and Canada.
The Jr. Pan Pacs are being live-streamed at usaswimming.org. Results can also be found on Meet Mobile. Prelims are 3 p.m. and finals are 11 p.m. east coast time.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com