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Avon native Madison Kennedy set to swim in Pan American Games for third time

Swimming at the 2019 Pan American Games begins on Tuesday at the Villa Deportiva Nacional. Avon native Madison Kennedy will be competing at the event for the third time. (Photo courtesy Lima 2019)

The swimming competition at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru kicks off on Tuesday and Avon native Madison Kennedy will be representing the United States for the third time at the event.

Avon’s Madison Kennedy

Kennedy, who lives and trains in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the No. 3 seed in the women’s 50-meter freestyle that will be held on Friday.

Brazil’s Etiene Pires de Medeiros is the top seed with a time of 24.52 seconds with American Margo Geer listed as the No. 2 seed with a time of 24.72 seconds. Kennedy’s seed time is 24.87 seconds. Medeiros was eighth at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.

Seven Olympic medalists highlight Team USA’s 36-member roster for the Pan American Games. Three-time Olympian and eight-time Olympic medalist Nathan Adrian will lead the way for Team USA, competing in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events in his Pan American Games debut. This will only be Adrian’s second international competition after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in January. 

Fellow Olympic gold medalists joining Adrian on the men’s roster include Gunnar Bentz, Kevin Cordes, Cody Miller and Tom Shields.

The women’s roster is highlighted by Olympic medalists Haley Anderson and Lia Neal as well as fellow Olympian Molly Hannis.

Kennedy has won two medals in her previous Pan Am Games appearances. She won a bronze medal in the 50 freestyle in 2011 in Mexico and was on the 4×100 freestyle relay team that finished second in Toronto, Canada in 2015. Kennedy also swam in the 50 free in Toronto and was fifth with a time of 24.80 seconds.

Kennedy could also be chosen by the U.S. swimming coaching staff to swim on a relay team in Peru. The women’s 4×100 freestyle relay is on Tuesday and the mixed 4×100 freestyle relay is on Wednesday. Kennedy has gold medals from swimming at the world championships on U.S. 4×100 freestyle relay in 2016 and 4×100 mixed freestyle relays in 2014 and 2018.

Kennedy, 31, is not the only veteran swimmer on the American team. It was just seven months ago that Adrian, 30, was told that he had testicular cancer.

American swimmer Nathan Adrian.

Adrian, who has five Olympic gold medals, successfully began his comeback after two surgeries by anchoring the United States 4×100 freestyle relay team to gold at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea in July.

But Lima 2019 will be his first major individual championship meet since the cancer diagnosis as he lines-up in the 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle where he faces tough Brazilian opposition.

“It was a shock when I was told the diagnosis,” Adrian said. “I was fit and healthy and you’re wondering how could this happen to me. But I knew there was something wrong and I knew I had to get it checked out quickly.

“I am different as I’m missing an entire organ and lymph nodes and the surgeons had to cut through my abdominal wall. Swimming has been vital in my recovery and I’ve worked hard to get back into shape.

“The training has also helped me cope with the nervousness and anxiety of cancer. My goal for 2020 has not changed and I still want to make it to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“Things may have changed how I get there, but what I need is competition. That is what I have been missing. The more races I can get, the more normal it will feel.”

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus is the favorite in the men’s 50 freestyle, which will be on Friday. He finished second in July’s world championships to American Caleb Dressel, who is not swimming at the Pan American Games. The 100 freestyle is on Thursday and Adrian is the top seeded swimmer.

ESPN will be broadcasting the Pan Am Games across many of their network platforms – ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3 and the ESPN app. For many of those platforms, you’ll be required to log in with your television provider

The Peruvian capital of Lima and its outlying areas are playing host to the Games, the largest sporting event ever hosted in Peru.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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