Baltimore's Becca Meyers and Ian Silverman set world records on the opening day of the 2014 U.S. Paralympics Swimming Spring National Championships/Spring CanAms on Thursday at Miami's Ransom Everglades School.
The event, which runs through Saturday, serves as the U.S. team qualifier for the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships in August.
Meyers, a Loyola Maryland student from Timonium, who competes in the S13 classification, won the women's 1500-meter freestyle in 17 minutes, 53.90 seconds in the morning session to smash the world record. The previous world record of 19:41.95 was set by American Elizabeth Scott in September 2000.
"It was incredible," Meyers said. "I'm happy that I finally set a world record in that event. I've been working for that for the last couple years, so I'm just really happy I was able to swim a world record time."
With her best events still to come today and Saturday, Meyers also won the women's 100-meter free with a time of 1:02.42 to finish her day on a high note.
"World records might be a long shot in the 400 free, 100 fly and 200 IM, but I'm hopeful," Meyers said. "If not at this meet, I think I definitely can set more records by [Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships in] Pasadena, California."
Silverman, a University of Southern California commit who trains with Meyers in Baltimore, followed her performance with a record setter of his own in the men's 1,500 free S10. The North Baltimore Aquatic Club and McDonogh swim team member swam a 16:19.70, easily breaking the 16:24.63 mark he set at last year's nationals/Spring CanAms.
Although not in record-setting form, Jessica Long, who grew up in Middle River, easily won the women's 100 free S8 by almost four seconds, marking a return to the pool after a stint as on-camera talent for NBC Olympics' coverage of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games on March 7-16.
"I love to swim," Long said. "It's great to be here in this atmosphere, swimming at such a large meet, but I am definitely feeling Sochi. Going to Russia as a commentator for NBC was such a great experience. I'm so thankful for the opportunity, even if it was a little brutal getting in the pool and competing today. I've only been swimming for about four days for this meet, so I'm slowly getting into a rhythm. I'm getting back into my routine and I'm building up for Pan Pacs and eventually for Rio [2016 Paralympic Games]."
Long, a three-time Paralympian and 17-time medalist at the Games, has realistic expectations for her meet.
"I know that I'm not at my best," Long said. "My main goal for this meet is to swim well and to make the team. Sochi was great but now I'm putting my focus back on swimming."
The event also marked the return of U.S. Navy veteran Brad Snyder of Baltimore, who took a brief hiatus from competitive swimming after two gold medals and one silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He swam a 1:00.02 in the men's 100m free S11, an event that he won at the Games in September 2012.
"It's really fun to be racing again," Snyder said. "It feels good to just dive off a block and get in the pool and swim against both new and old athletes. This is a great event but everyone has their minds set on Rio and we're just putting ourselves in the mix here." More than 200 athletes from Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Russia and the United States are competing in Miami.