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Havertown swimmer wins Paralympics silver medal in 100-meter breaststroke

David Abrahams, a junior at Harvard who has been legally blind since the eighth grade, lowered his U.S. record in the qualifying heat and took second in the final behind a world-record performance.

David Abrahams swimming for Harvard.
David Abrahams swimming for Harvard.Read moreHARVARD UNIVERSITY

David Abrahams of Havertown won a silver medal Wednesday in the SB13 men’s 100-meter breaststroke at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Abrahams, 20, a junior at Harvard who has been legally blind since eighth grade, was timed in 1 minute, 4.38 seconds for the distance. The winner of the race, Taliso Engel of Germany, broke his own world record in the event in 1:02.97.

Earlier in the day, Abrahams lowered his American record in the event by .03 seconds, clocking a time of 1:04.04 in his qualifying heat. He was the No. 2 qualifier behind Engel.

» READ MORE: Havertown’s David Abrahams, who is legally blind, prepares to swim three events at Paralympics

A Haverford High School graduate, Abrahams has completed a busy schedule in Tokyo.

He started out last Wednesday with a ninth-place finish in qualifying for the SB13 100-meter butterfly, just barely missing the final. He reached the final Monday in the SM13 200-meter individual medley and finished just outside a spot on the podium, taking fourth in 2:12.67. SB13 swimmers have the least severe vision impairment eligible for Paralympic sport.

Abrahams was diagnosed as a teenager with Stargardt Disease, a genetic eye disorder that causes progressive vision loss. He has his peripheral vision but has lost his central vision, which is needed for reading, driving, and identifying people or objects directly in front of him, because of macular degeneration.

Abrahams was a four-time All-Central League selection and a two-time All-State pick. A mathematics major, he qualified at Harvard for the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials in the 200-meter breaststroke but decided to focus on his preparation for the Paralympics.