Former WKU swimmer Donahue wins gold in relay at Pan Am Games

Mercedes Trent

Former WKU swimmer Claire Donahue

won her second gold medal as part of the United States 4×100 relay

team at the XVI Pan American Games Friday night in Guadalajara,


The team took first with a new Pan

American record time of 4.01.

“It’s a phenomenal way for her to

end her first international competition,” WKU Head Coach Bruce

Marchionda said.

Donahue, a Lenoir City, Tenn.,

native, swam the butterfly leg of the event after placing first in

the individual 100 meter race on Oct. 14. She finished her portion

of the relay in 59.03. Rachel Bootsma, Ann Catherine Chandler —

winner of the 100m breaststroke event — and Amanda Kendall made up

the rest of the USA team, which finished almost six seconds ahead

of second-place Canada.

In the preliminaries of the event,

Donahue qualified first for the A final with a time of 58.59,

setting a new Pan American Games record.

“There’s no time to back off at that

level,” Marchionda said. “You can’t afford to cruise through the

(preliminary rounds). You have to be ready every time you step up

to the block.”

Marchionda added that the experience

at the Pan American Games will benefit Donahue as she heads into

training for the Olympic trials.

Donahue will take two days off

before returning to WKU to continue her training for the Olympic

trials which will be held June 25-July 2, 2012 in Omaha,


“There’s more pressure at (the

Olympic trials) than the Olympics itself,” Marchionda


Marchionda remembered a case last

year where a competitor set a world record in the preliminaries but

placed third in the finals and did not make the Olympic


Marchionda said he hopes the

experience in an international atmosphere will prepare Donahue for

the Olympic trials and ease her nerves. 

“The more she’s able to control her

nerves, the better off she’s going to be,” he said.