U.S. Begins World University Games with Pair of Medals


Meghan HawthorneThe United States earned two medals on the opening night of the swimming competition at the World University Games. Meghan Hawthorne (Granada Hills, Calif.) came from behind to finish second in the women’s 400-meter individual medley, while the women’s 4x100m freestyle also took silver. The pool competition will continue through July 16 at the Aquatics Palace in Kazan, Russia..

After the first 200m of the 400 IM, Hawthorne found herself in sixth place. The 21-year-old climbed three spots in the breaststroke portion before finishing second in 4:40.40.

“I raced my own race,” said Hawthorne. “I knew I would be toward the back going into the breaststroke, but I just kept my head down and went for it. Once I looked up on the scoreboard and realized I got a medal, you just think about all the hard work that went into and you know it was worth it.”

Sarah Henry (Garner, N.C.) finished seventh in the 400m IM after touching the wall in 4:46.02.

The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay was a two-horse race between the U.S. and host-country Russia. Rachael Acker (Palo Alto, Calif.), Liv Jensen (Palo Alto, Calif.), Andi Murez (Venice, Calif.) and Megan Romano (St. Petersburg, Fla.) finished in 3:38.60, just 0.45 seconds behind the Russians. Canada finished third in 3:40.71.

“I’m just so proud to represent the United States in such a great, close race,” said Jensen. “We competed against some of the best swimmers around the world, and I could not be more proud of the girls.”

The men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team placed fourth. Jack Conger (Rockville, Md.), Giles Smith (Cockeysville, Md.), Derek Toomey (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Michael Wynalda (Ann Arbor, Mich.) registered a time of 3:17.60.  

In the men’s 400m free final, Alex Wold (Santa Clara, Calif.) earned himself a top-five finish. Wold clocked a 3:51.68 to place fifth, while teammate Jacob Ritter (Austin, Texas) touched in 3:53.68 to earn seventh-place honors.

Day one’s evening sessions also featured five semifinal races. Mike Alexandrov (Champaign, Ill.) and Cody Miller (Las Vegas, Nev.) each reached the finals in the 100m breast. Alexandrov won his heat in 1:00.57, while Miller finished in 1:01.22.  

Also advancing out of semis and into the finals were Kendyl Stewart (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Ellen Williamson (Ft. Mitchell, Ky.) in the women’s 200m back. Swimming in the same heat, Stewart touched in 2:11.85, followed closely by Williamson’s 2:12.10.  

In the women’s 50m fly, Kelsey Floyd (Lexington, Ky.) clocked a 26.83 and advanced to the Thursday’s finals. Jasmine Tosky (Palo Alto, Calif.) had a 27.39-second swim, but just missed the finals.

Event eight of the competition was the men’s 100 back. Jacob Pebley (Corvallis, Ore.) had the fastest time in the men’s 100m back semis, finding the wall in 54.15. Teammate James Wells (Phippsburg, Maine) swam a 54.14 but missed the finals.

Giles Smith (Baltimore, Md.) and Kyler Van Swol (Minneapolis, Minn.) swam the 50m fly in 24.16 and 24.21, respectively, but did not advance to the final.

Taking place every two years, the World University Games are an international, multi-sport event organized for university athletes by the International Sports Federation. Swimmers were selected to the 2013 World University Games Team roster based on their performance at the 2012 U.S. Open Championships and the 2013 Open Water National Championships. All athletes selected for the team must be at least 17 years old and less than 28 years old on January 1, 2013. Additional Guidelines can be found here.

The pool competition in Kazan, Russia, is set for July 10-16 followed by the open water competition scheduled for July 17. For more information on this year’s Games, visit http://kazan2013.ru/en

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