Air Force makes splash in swim prelims

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
  • Defense Media Activity
Members of the Air Force team qualified in five swimming events during the 2011 Warrior Games preliminary competition here May 18.

Matt Pirrello secured two spots in the finals for the Air Force team in the men's 50m long course freestyle single limb amputee and the 100m long course freestyle SLA. Pirrello, who came off the block with a clear lead, finished in first place in both heats with times of 32.25 and 1:20.10.

This is Pirrello's first year competing at the Warrior Games.

"I'm excited," Pirrello said. "I'm glad I performed well. I've been training at the Center for the Intrepid (San Antonio). Swimming has just been a part of my rehab, so when I heard about the Warrior Games, I decided to take it further and start swimming laps and things like that."

Besides bringing home the gold, Pirrello said he has another goal.

"I was hoping to get 20 seconds for my (50m freestyle), and I swam about a 32," he said. "If I can take that down a couple of notches, then I think I'll be in good shape."

Jason Morgan, who won two bronze medals for the Air Force team the day before, earned chances to compete in the men's 50m and 100m LC freestyle spinal cord injury/double limb amputee multiple disability and the 50m LC backstroke SCI/DLA multiple disability.

Jennifer Stone continued to dominate in her events as she secured the second spot in the finals. Stone, a Warrior Games veteran but newcomer to competitive swimming, finished second in the women's 50m LC freestyle open with a time of 42.36 behind the Army's Stefanie Mason's time of 39.51. The Navy's Melanie Monts de Oca gave Stone a run for her money with a third place time of 43.79.

"This year I thought I'd go out and give it a try and I did better than I expected I would do," Stone said. "My goal, of course, was to give it all that I had, but to keep the technique that they showed me, just keeping my head down in the water and not to give too much in the beginning, so that I'll last the whole way through."

Stone will meet up with Mason and Monts de Oca May 20 to prove herself in the pool once again and potentially bring a medal back to the Air Force.

"(My strategy is to) come off the block a little bit faster and a little bit harder," she said. "I think that will initially give me a better start. And just to remember to stay focused, don't rush it and keep my head down in the water."

The Air Force team qualified in nine out of 10 events:
- Frank Reilly qualified in the men's 100m LC freestyle open multiple disability
- Damian Orslene qualified in the men's 50m LC backstroke SLA multiple disability
- Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate qualified in the women's 50m LC backstroke open multiple disability