By Sharon Robb
July 15, 2015—Colombian Jorge Murillo-Valdes of South Florida Aquatic Club walked away with everything but a medal Wednesday at the XVII Pan American Games in Toronto.
During morning prelims, Murillo-Valdes, 23, tied the meet record and broke his own national record to not only earn the top-seed for finals but also qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Murillo-Valdes touched the wall first in 2:11.92 to equal the 2011 meet record of former U.S. swimmer Sean Mahoney.
Murillo-Valdes broke his own national record of 2:13.17 set last year. He dropped an impressive 1.25 seconds. Murillo-Valdes went out in 1:03.78 and was in second. He came back in 1:07.84 including 33.69 on his final 50 meters.
Between sessions, Murillo-Valdes wrote on his Facebook page:
“Thank you God for this opportunity to be able to achieve my biggest dream, to be in the Olympic Games. This day I will never forget, record Pan, national record and mark for the Olympic Games.”
Murillo-Valdes came back to better his own national record in 2:12.71 to finish fifth, shaving another second off his lifetime-best.
Brazilian Thiago Simon won the gold medal in 2:09.82, breaking the meet record. Canadian Richard Funk was second in 2:11.51 and Thiago Pereira of Brazil was third in 2:11.93.
SOFLO teammate and three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson just missed a medal finishing fourth in the 200-meter breaststroke in a season-best 2:27.15 after going 2:28.86 in prelims.
Bermuda national champion and SOFLO swimmer Lisa Blackburn finished 15th in 2:46.32 after going a
season-best 2:42.82 in prelims.
Two-time Colombian Olympian Carolina Colorado, competing in her third Pan Ams, won the “B” final of the 200-meter backstroke in 2:14.87 that would have placed her eighth in finals.
Florida Gold Coast’s lone medal winner was Clara Smiddy of AquaKids Sharks and Michigan competing in her first major international meet. Smiddy, the fourth fastest qualifier, took the bronze in 2:11.47 behind Canadians Hilary Caldwell in 2:08.22 and Dominique Bouchard in 2:09.74.
In other championship races:
Reigning Olympic champion Allison Schmitt won the first gold medal for the United States in the 200-meter freestyle and broke the 36-year-old meet record held by American Sippy Woodhead. Schmitt won in 1:56.23 breaking the previous record of 1:58.43 set in San Juan Puerto Rico. The record has stood since 1979.
In a close race, Brazilian Joao De Lucca, 25, won gold in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:46.42, breaking the meet record of 1:47.18 held by Florida alum Brett Fraser and Brazilian and South American record of 1:46.57 held by Brazilian Thiago Pereira. Argentine Federico Grabich took silver in a national record. 1:47.62. American Michael Weiss took bronze in 1:47.63.
Canadian women continued their domination in the medal count finishing 1-2 in the 200-meter breaststroke. In an exciting finish, Kierra Smith edged teammate Martha McCabe, 2:24.38-2:24.51 for the gold and meet record. American Annie Lazor took the bronze in 2:26.23.
Also in the men’s 200-meter backstroke, Jamaica’s Timothy Wynter of SOFLO swam 2:08.78 to finish 16th overall after going a career-best 2:07.17 in
prelims. He is the fastest Jamaican in
the event this season and is close to the national record of 2:06.54 held by Keanan Dols of Sarasota.
The United States finished one-two in the 200-meter backstroke. Sean Lehane came from behind in the final 50 meters to overtake early leader Omar Pinzon of Colombia to win in a meet record 1:57.47 followed by teammate Carter Griffin in 1:58.18.
Brazil dominated the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay to win in a meet record 7:11.15 followed by Canada in 7:17.33 and Venezuela in 7:21.14. The U.S. finished second but was later disqualified.
Thursday’s events are the 400-meter individual medley, 100-meter butterfly and women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) will offer more than 650 hours of coverage online. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes will also televise the Games including 62 hours of live coverage.
200-meter freestyle: 1. Allison Schmitt, United States 1:56.23, 2. Emily Overholt, Canada 1:57.55, 3. Manuella Lyrio, Brazil 1:58.03.
200-meter breaststroke: 1. Kierra Smith, Canada 2:24.38, 2. Martha McCabe, Canade 2:24.51, 3. Annie Lazor, United States 2:26.23; SOFLO: 4. Alia Atkinson, Jamaica 2:27.15; 15. Lisa Blackburn, Bermuda 2:46.32.
200-meter backstroke: 1. Hilary Caldwell, Canada 2:08.22, 2. Dominique Bouchard, Canada 2:09.74, 3. Clara Smiddy, United States 2:11.47; SOFLO: 9. Carolina Colorado, Colombia 2:14.87.
200-meter freestyle: 1. Joao De Lucca, Brazil 1:46.42, 3. Federico Grabich, Argentina 1:47.62, 3. Michael Weiss, United States 1:47.63.
200-meter breaststroke: 1. Thiago Simon, Brazil 2:09.82, 2. Richard Funk, Canada 2:11.51, 3. Thiago Pereira, Brazil 2:11.93; SOFLO: 5. Jorge Murillo-Valdes, Colombia 2:12.71.
200-meter backstroke: 1. Sean Lehane, United States 1:57.47, 2. Carter Griffin, United States 1:58.18, 3. Leonard De Deus, Brazil 1:58.27; SOFLO: 16. Timothy Wynter, Jamaica 2:07.78.
4×200-meter freestyle relay: 1. Brazil 7:11.15, 2. Canada 7:17.15, 3. Venezuela 7:21.14.
SOFLO CONNECTION AT PAN AMS
BERMUDA: Lisa Blackburn
COLOMBIA: Carolina Colorado, Jorge Murillo-Valdes
JAMAICA: Alia Atkinson, Timothy Wynter, Chris Anderson (Coach)
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org