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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
U.S. swimmers snap up 4 Pan Am golds

Associated Press

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- This rivalry just fizzled out.

The United States and Brazil had been almost neck-and-neck in the pool every day at the Pan American Games, but that changed Tuesday when the Americans swam away from their closest challengers by winning four of the five gold medals.

The United States now has 12 gold medals in swimming through four days of competition. Brazil still has six.

"Brazil has been having a great meet," said Sean Mahoney, who won the men's 200-meter breaststroke. "They have so many good swimmers on their side. It's really fun that they are competing at such a high level. It brings a lot of challenges."

Mahoney, Julia Smit, Arthur Frayler and the women's 4x200-meter freestyle relay team all won Tuesday.

Smit defended her title in the 200 individual medley from four years ago, adding another gold to her win in the 400 IM.

"This one was really exciting for me because I won this medal in 2007 Pan Ams and it was one of my goals to repeat," Smit said. "The Pan Am Games is one of my favorite games I've ever been to, so really excited to get a second gold medal."

A short time later, Frayler and Ryan Feeley finished 1-2 in the men's 1,500 freestyle, and Mahoney and Clark Burckle did the same in the 200 breaststroke.

In the last event of the night, Catherine Breed, Elizabeth Pelton, Chelsea Nauta and Amanda Kendall combined to win the relay.

Both Mahoney and the 4x200 team had Pan American Games record times.

The burst in the pool extended the American lead at the top of the medal standings. The United States has won 24 gold and 63 overall, while Brazil is next with 10 gold and 30 overall.

"We have talked about (the rivalry), but mainly all the guys have that feeling that we want to be at the top spot," Frayler said. "When we hear other national anthems we want to get the top spot and see our flag there again."

Americans or Brazilians had won every swimming race at this year's games, but that changed Tuesday when a pair of brothers from the Cayman Islands swept the top two places in the 200 freestyle. Brett and Shaune Fraser are both products of the University of Florida, and both competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Benjamin Hockin earned bronze in that race, winning the first Pan American Games swimming medal for Paraguay and shutting out the Americans for only the second time in Guadalajara.

Hockin, who has an English father and a Paraguayan mother, was born in Colombia but competed for Britain at the 2008 Olympics before switching nationalities to Paraguay last year.

"This is incredible, a dream come true. Unbelievable," Hockin said. "I dreamed and I hoped for this."

Thiago Pereira, Brazil's top swimmer, was looking for his fourth gold medal in the pool, but had to settle with a bronze in the 200 breaststroke.

"Feel pretty tired right now. It was my fourth event, still four to go," Pereira said. "It was a fun race. I wanted to go fast in the first 100 and died in the final. But happy with the medal."

Pereira won the 400 individual medley and swam in the preliminaries of the 4x100 freestyle relay to earn two golds. He added a third on Monday in the 100 backstroke.

At the games four years ago in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian won six gold medals to break Mark Spitz's record for most golds in one Pan Am Games.

The host Mexicans also had another good day, winning two rowing titles and another rhythmic gymnastics gold. Canada and Cuba also added three golds apiece to their tallies.

But the United States was the star team of the day. Besides the swimming haul, Americans won a pair of rowing golds and another shooting title, while Julie Zetlin earned her third title of the games by taking the ribbon event in rhythmic gymnastics.

Margot Shumway, a Beijing Olympian, won the first American gold of the day in the women's single sculls. She trailed late in the race but surged ahead to claim the title. The American duo of Michael Gennaro and Robert Otto later won the men's coxless pairs.

In shooting, Miranda Wilder won gold in the women's trap while American teammate Kayle Deann Browning earned bronze. In the men's 50-meter pistol, Daryl Szarenski earned silver behind Sergio Sanchez of Guatemala.

Szarenski won the 10-meter air pistol on Sunday.