MADEIRA, Portugal — A new world record has been set! Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks, a paralympic swimmer assigned to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, competed in and helped break a world record at the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships in Madeira, June 12-18, 2022.
The previous world record for the mixed 4x50m medley relay 20pts was held by China with a time of 2:32.59 back in September 2019. Team USA athletes Elizabeth Marks, Abbas Karimi, Leanne Smith and Rudy Garcia-Tolson broke that record with a 2:32.49.
“I was most concerned about the mixed medley,” said Marks. “I felt so much positive pressure that I really wanted to pour as much as I had into our relay, and we did.”
For Marks, the experience was just as much about watching her teammates succeed. Karimi — a former refugee — earned his American citizenship this year, competing for Team USA for the first time.
“It was incredibly encouraging and heart healing for me to watch my teammates represent Team USA,” Marks explained. “I almost cried when I saw Karimi wearing an American flag cap that morning.”
During the 2022 championships, Marks also earned a gold medal in the women’s 50m butterfly (S6) final with a 36.98 seconds and bronze medal in the women’s 50m freestyle (S6) final with a 33.91 seconds. Marks currently holds the American record for both these events.
Due to contracting COVID prior to the championships, Marks had to drop from two races for the start of the week. “Getting to still compete at worlds after having COVID was more than I had expected,” said Marks. “It was rough, but my coach, Nathan Manley, is an expert at coaching me through ‘rough’.”
Marks is a two-time paralympian, earning a total of five Paralympic Medals and over a dozen World Medals, making her the most decorated athlete in the history of the World Class Athlete Program.