Leanne Smith leads U.S. with seven golds at world para swimming championships

Leanne Smith

Leanne Smith won a meet-leading seven gold medals at the world para swimming championships, sparking a U.S. team that finished second in the standings with 24 gold medals overall.

Smith, who earned one silver medal in her Paralympic debut in Tokyo, had the best medal haul for a U.S. swimmer at a world championships since Jessica Long took seven golds and two silvers in 2010, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Full meet results are here.

Smith, 34, took four months off swimming after the Paralympics last year, according to TeamUSA.org.

“To really reevaluate where I was in the sport,” she said, according to the report. “I wasn’t the happiest with how I swam in Tokyo, so it was important for me to really take the time to reevaluate mentally, emotionally how I felt about the sport.”

Smith, diagnosed with a rare neurological muscle disease called dystonia in January 2012, began swimming in 2013. On the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira this week, she won golds in all of her events spanning the backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, individual medley and a relay.

Other top American performers included Robert Griswold, who took three golds and six medals total. In Tokyo, Griswold won two golds.

McKenzie Coan, a six-time Paralympic medalist between Rio and Tokyo, added five more medals this week, including three golds.

Long, who ranks second in U.S. history with 29 Paralympic medals, didn’t compete this week, missing a worlds for the first time since 2002.

“I have had to remind myself that sometimes we all need a break,” Long, 30, posted on social media last week. “I haven’t taken a break since I made my first Paralympic team in 2004. I needed to take my break now. I can’t wait to take on this rest time and rejuvenate as I try to book my ticket to Paris in 2024.”

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