A para-swimmer featured in a CNN.com story last week has broken another world record, making her the world record holder or current world champion in all individual swimming events to be held in her class at next year’s Paralympics.
One of her U.S. teammates also made a historic splash at the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, setting four world records of her own in a separate physical ability class.
Mallory Weggemann (pictured), 22, of Eagan, Minnesota, and Jessica Long, 19, of Baltimore, Maryland, each collected eight gold medals at the event – one of the last major meets before the 2012 Paralympics – from Wednesday to Sunday.
Weggemann’s 1:23.17 in the 100-meter backstroke Saturday broke the previous world record by two-hundredths of a second.
“I’ve wanted that (backstroke) record for a long time,” Weggemann said in a post on the U.S. Paralympics Team website. “I had a bad turn and when I saw my split, I thought, ‘I gotta get a move on.’”
Weggemann, who was paralyzed below the waist three years ago after complications from an epidural injection for back pain, now holds world records in six of the seven individual events (the 50-meter, 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle; the 200-meter individual medley; the 100-meter breaststroke; and the 100-meter backstroke) that will be held in her physical ability class at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
She is 2010 world champion in the other event, the 50-meter butterfly. On Thursday in Edmonton, she won gold in the butterfly but missed a 27-year-old world record by nine-hundredths of a second.
Long, whose lower legs were amputated when she was 1 and competes in a separate class, broke world records in Edmonton in the 100-meter freestyle, the 400-meter freestyle, the 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter individual medley.
Australia (men and women combined) won the medal count in Edmonton, with 35 gold, 25 silver and 19 bronze. The United States followed with 27 gold, 26 silver and 16 bronze.
The 2012 Paralympic Games would be the first for Weggemann. Long has taken seven gold medals in two Paralympic Games, including three in 2004, when she was 12.
The U.S. Paralympic trials will be held in March in North Dakota.