Former WKU swimmer Donahue swims for gold in Pan American Games

Former WKU swimmer Claire Donahue will swim for the gold medal tonight in the 4×100 medley relay at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Mercedes Trent

Former WKU swimmer Claire Donahue will wrap up her performance at the XVI Pan American games Friday in Guadalajara, Mexico, as she competes as part of the United States 4×100 medley relay team.

WKU’s head swimming coach, Bruce Marchionda, believes Donahue will end her time in Guadalajara with a strong finish.

“I think they have a chance to break the Pan American record with her strong performance in the 100 butterfly,” Marchionda said. “(Donahue) needs to take the success she had in the individual event and utilize that in the relay.”

The Lenoir City, Tenn., native found early success in the Pan American games when she won a gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly Saturday. 

Marchionda, who has spoken to Donahue every day since she’s been in Mexico, said “she’s feeling pretty good in the water and getting very excited to swim in the relay Friday night.”

Donahue will swim the butterfly leg of the race and fellow Pan American Games gold medalist Annie Chandler will swim the 100 breaststroke as part of the United States team as well. 

“With the strength in the 100 breaststroke, I would think they would have a legitimate chance to break the pan am record and bring home the gold medal for the United States,” Marchionda said.

Marchionda said the Brazilian relay team will be the toughest competition.

“They’ve been having a very good meet and based on their individual performances they should be able to put together a very good women’s relay,” Marchionda said. 

Marchionda also predicts that Donahue will be chosen for “Duel in the Pool,” a USA Swimming event held the third weekend of December that will pit an American all-star team against an European all-star team.

However, Marchionda emphasized that Donahue would focus primarily on training for the Olympic trials after the Pan American games. Donahue trained with the WKU swim team all summer before the Pan American games and will train for the Olympic trials with the team as well when she returns. 

Donahue made her mark on WKU’s swim team with significant achievements each season. She set a record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 54.21 her freshman year.

As a sophomore, she finished first in the Sun Belt Conference Championships in the 100 and 200 butterfly, beating her previous record in the 100 butterfly.

Junior year, Donahue became the first female swimmer in WKU history to qualify for the finals session at an NCAA Championship meet. She finished fourth in the nation in the 100 butterfly.

Donahue ended her career at WKU by finishing second in the nation with a school-record setting time of 51.68 in the 100 butterfly.

“She’s a big part of the program here,” Marchionda said. “(The team) is following her every move, and we’re genuinely excited for her and excited for her success.”