1999 Pan American Games

Canada Close To Perfect

Everybody Claims Victory


Nick J. Thierry

Canadian swimmers won their first Pan American Games with 13 golds.

American swimmers won the overall medal total with 37 to Canada's 31.

Brazil, with seven gold, claimed men's supremacy.

Everyone can claim a victory of sorts.

It was a very high watermark for Canadian swimming. The 9 national records (1 men's, 8 women's) were the best international performance this decade.

"If you're going to be in the game, you need to step up and get to the podium," Canadian head coach Dave Johnson said. "You never get to a meet and hit it quite perfectly, but this is close."

Canada's performance was strongest in the women's events, where the depth of competition was razor thin. Some events had 9 or 10 entries, the biggest only 17. Only 4 women's relays competed. Men's entries were marginally bigger, from a high of 24 to a low of 13, and there were 8 relay teams. The meet was conducted under the old format (no semis) with A and B finals (some with one swimmer).

Jessica Deglau (CAN) with her 4 golds, she also picked up 2 silver medals
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Scott Grant

The single biggest success story was Jessica Deglau, 19, Vancouver, winner of four golds and two silvers. She bettered two Canadian records in the 200 free with 2:00.21 (relay lead-off) and 200 butterfly with 2:10.30 in the prelims and 2:09.64 in the finals, the third-ranked time in the world.

Canad's record setting 4x200 relay of Joanne Malar, Marianne Limpert Laura Nicholls and Jessica Deglau
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Scott Grant

Deglau won the individual 200 freestyle in 2:00.65 and the 200 fly in 2:09.64, and picked up an individual silver in the 100 fly with 1:00.70, another personal best. She swam on two winning relays, leading off the 4x100 in 56.60 and the 4x200 with a 2:00.21, both personal bests. She was a member of the silver-medal medley relay.

Best of all, Deglau prequalified for next year's Olympics in the 200 fly.

Another breakthrough performance was Joanne Malar's 400 IM win in 4:38.46. It was a three-second drop from her previous best and moves her to number eight on the all-time list. It was not a case of being pushed; she won the race by 11 seconds.

"What's really motivating," Malar said, "is to know that at my age (23), I can drop to a time like that. I really, really wanted to swim fast. I was well rested."

Her splits: 100 200 300 400
Record from 1996 1:04.44 2:16.62 3:37.67 4:43.39
Record this March 1:04.08 2:16.24 3:36.79 4:41.20
Record at Pan Ams 1:03.47 2:14.75 3:33.38 4:38.46

On the same evening she was a member of the winning and record-setting 4x200 free relay for a second gold.

She added another gold in record time in the 200 IM with 2:14.18. Although she managed a bronze in the 400 free, her time of 4:12.64 bettered a 16-year-old Canadian record.

Another record-setter was hometown favourite Kelly Stefanyshyn. She won the 100 backstroke in 1:02.14 and got a silver in the 4x100 medley, as well as a bronze in the 200 backstroke with her 2:13.24. Both individual races were Canadian records.

The night of the 100 win was special. Stefanyshyn was the star, bringing out her local fans who got out of their seats as she moved ahead of Denali Knapp (USA) and Olympic champion Beth Botsford (USA).

"It felt amazing," Kelly said. "The best race of my life so far. To be here in Winnipeg, in the pool I trained in until last year, and to do it in front of my family and friends, it's the best race of my life.

"Before the race, on the starting block, I looked around and saw all the people, and I said to myself: ‘You've got to go now. This is the time to do it. There's no holding back.' "

Laura Nicholls, 20, Waterloo, won the 100 free in 56.25, added a bronze in the 50 free with 26.10, swam on the winning free relays and the second-place medley relay, for a medal total of three gold, one silver, and one bronze.

Lauren van Oosten (CAN) won 200 breatstroke
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Scott Grant

Lauren van Oosten, 20, Nanaimo, won the 200 breast with 2:30.36, was third in the 100 breast with 1:10.06, and added a silver on the medley relay.

Marianne Limpert, 26, Fredericton, picked up bronze medals in the 100 free and 200 IM, and two golds on the free relays. She missed a main goal, which was to prequalify for next year's Olympics.

The prequalification criterion was fourth place from the 1998 World Championships.

The most successful male for Canada was Curtis Myden (no surprise there), winning both IM races—the 200 in 2:02.38 and the 400 in 4:15.52, a Canadian record and the fastest time in the world this year. This qualified him for next year's Olympics and sets him up for a repeat Olympic performance.

"Prequalifying for the Olympics was my objective coming here," Myden said. "I know now I'll be on the blocks in Sydney. ... Knowing that ahead of time helped me in Atlanta."

It was extensively reported by the media and television that this was a great comeback after he took last year off. Just a year ago Myden was a big star at the Goodwill Games in New York, and the individual high scorer at Summer Nationals.

Morgan Knabe (CAN) 200 breatstroke winner
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Mike Ridewood

Other standouts on the men's team were Morgan Knabe, 18, Edmonton, winning the 200 breast in 2:14.73, and picking up a silver in the 100 breast in 1:02.11, and a bronze in the 4x100 medley.

Shamek Pietucha (CAN) 200 fly winner
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Mike Ridewood

Shamek Pietucha, 22, Edmonton, winner of the 200 fly in 1:59.10, was a silver medallist in the 100 fly in 53.40 and added a bronze in the 4x100 medley relay.

The American team was not quite the B Team some called it. Glen E. Moses had the single best swim of the competition in winning the men's 100 breaststroke in 1:00.99, the fastest time in the world this year.

Glenn Moses (USA) won 100 breatstroke in 1:00.99
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Scott Grant

The team was composed of swimmers placing third and fourth at the 1998 US Summer Nationals, one of the toughest competitions in the world.

The following Americans established Pan Am records: Ed Moses (100 breast, 1:00.99), Karen Campbell (100 fly, 59.70p), Denali Knapp (200 back, 2:12.48), Kaitlin Sandeno (800 free, 8:34.65), Staciana Stitts (100 breast, 1:09.16), and the women's 400 medley relay (4:06.08, Knapp, Stitts, Campbell, and Spatz).

4x100 medley winner (USA) with Tammie Spatz, Staciana Stitts, Karen Campbell and Denali Knapp
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Mike Ridewood

Brazil's men's team was very strong with Fernando Scherer, 25, winning the individual 50 and 100 freestyle, and the 4x100 medley and 4x100 free for four gold medals.

Gustavo Borges, 26, won the 200 freestyle, picked up a third in the 100 free, and was a member of two winning relays and the second-place 4x200 free relay, for three golds, a silver, and a bronze.

CAN 13 5 13 31
USA 10 18 9 37
BRA 7 3 3 12
VEN 1 0 2 3
CUB 1 0 1 2
JAM 0 3 0 3
ARG 0 2 1 3
PAN 0 1 0 1
SUR 0 0 1 1
TOTAL 32 32 30* 94
* no bronze medals in women's relays
* two bronze medals in men's 200 free

Rating Summary of Top PAN AMERICAN Performances
1) 1003 1:00.99 100 breast M F Glenn Ed Moses, 80,USA
2) 994 4:15.52 400 im M F Curtis Myden, 73,CAN
994 3:17.18 4x100 free M F Brazil, BRA
4) 993 49.05 100 free M R Fernando Scherer, 74,BRA
5) 990 4:38.46 400 im W F Joanne Malar, 75,CAN
6) 987 54.93 100 back M F Rodolfo Falcon, 72,CUB
7) 981 8:05.56 4x200 free W F Canada, CAN
981 4:17.86 400 im M F Eric Donnelly, 80,USA
981 55.17 100 back M F Alexandre Massura, 75,BRA
981 1:59.33 200 back M F Leonardo Costa, 76,BRA
11) 980 53.33 100 fly M F Francisco Sanchez, 76,VEN
980 4:06.08 4x100 medley W F United States, USA
13) 978 53.40 100 fly M F Shamek Pietucha, 76,CAN
14) 976 1:02.11 100 breast M F Morgan Knabe, 81,CAN
976 1:02.11 100 breast M F Jarrod Marrs, 75,USA
976 1:59.77 200 back M F Aaron Peirsol, 83,USA
17) 975 2:09.64 200 fly W F Jessica Deglau, 80,CAN
974 22.46 50 free M F Jose M. Meolans, 78,ARG
19) 972 4:10.83 400 free W F Janelle Atkinson, 82,JAM
972 4:10.74 400 free W F Kaitlin Sandeno, 83,USA
972 1:09.16 100 breast W F Staciana Stitts, 81,USA
22) 971 59.70 100 fly W H Karen Campbell, 77,USA
971 4:19.62 400 im M F Owen Von Richter, 75,CAN
24) 970 1:01.85 100 back W R Denali Knapp, 78,USA
970 2:00.27 200 back M F Dan Shevchik, 80,USA
26) 968 1:49.41 200 free M F Gustavo Borges, 72,BRA
27) 966 55.73 100 back M R Mark Versfeld, 76,CAN
966 25.50 50 free W F Tammie Spatz, 76,USA
29) 965 50.02 100 free M R Scott Tucker, 75,USA
30) 965 15:14.94 1500 free M F Tim Siciliano, 80,USA