U.S. swimmers on song, Kanye West hits a sour note

Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:41pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - American swimmers finally made a splash in the Pan American Games pool on Thursday while the decision to have controversial hip hop artist Kanye West headline the closing ceremonies sparked outrage and took the focus off the athletes.

After a smooth start to the July 10-26 competition, which many consider Toronto's audition for landing a Summer Olympics, Pan Am Games officials have come under fire for not going with a more Canadian lineup.

Since announcing on Wednesday that Grammy-winning West will be part of a lineup including U.S. rapper Pitbull and Canadian musician Serena Ryder, a number of online petitions have popped up demanding officials to reconsider.

It was also a controversial evening in the swimming pool where two gold medalist were disqualified for making illegal turns.

After out-duelling American Caitlin Leverenz to the wall in the 400 meter individual medley, 17-year-old Canadian Emily Overholt was left crushed when she was stripped of her medal for a non-simultaneous touch during the breaststroke.

A few minutes later it was Brazilian great Thiago Pereira, winner of a Pan Am record 21 swimming medals, who was denied another gold for an illegal touch in the men's 400m IM, handing victory to team mate Brandonn Almeida.

With just two golds from the first two days of the swimming competition, the Americans finally flexed their muscles on Day Three, reaching the top of the podium in four of five finals.

Leverenz, Kelsi Worrell (women's 100 butterfly), Giles Smith (men's 100 butterfly) and the women's 4x200 freestyle relay were all winners, with only Almeida preventing a U.S. golden sweep.   Continued...

Caitlin Leverenz of the United States (right) races Emily Overholt of Canada (left) in the women's swimming 400m individual medley final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports