Karlyn's Most Excellent Summer -- August 10, 2003

SAN DIEGO, August 10. AHH...the fruits of summer! Versatile San Diego Masters swimmer Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, 41, has had an awesome summer, setting a flurry of new records in a variety of events, distances, courses and strokes.

One week after competing at the US Masters Nationals in Tempe, Arizona, May 15-18 (where she set five new USMS records and had one personal best time), Pipes-Neilsen swam two days (heats and finals) of the SPEEDO Grand Challenge at USC, followed by one day at a local Masters meet. The result: world and national Masters records for wome 40-44 in the 200-meter fly (2:25.69) and 400-meter IM (5:12.50), four national records (100 fly 1:05.39, 200 IM 2:25.38, 200 back 2:23.64, 200 free 2:09.00) and three relay national records.

On June 7-8, Pipes-Neilsen attended the Charlotte UltraSwim in North Carolina and lowered the 40-44 age group USMS national record for the 100-meter back with a 1:07.69. The time bettered her own mark of 1:08.03 set in 2002. The time placed her 13th and was good enough for a trip to the consolation finals. Pipes-Neilsen also qualified for the finals (top 24) in 100 free (1:00.10), 400 free (4:30.82) and 200 back (2:23.92).

A week later at the USMS 3K Open Water Championships hosted by Clemson at Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, Pipes-Neilsen won her division in the 3k swim (finishing second overall), was the first female in the 2k (2nd overall) and was first overall in the .5k swim. The 2k swim was a course record. Pipes-Neilsen’s mom, Adrienne Pipes, 69, won her age division for the 3k and 2k events. She swam on her birthday!

Returning to San Diego, the restless Pipes-Neilsen time-trialed a short course 800-meter free on June 20 and hacked 11 seconds of the previous world record of 9:20.38 set by Australia’s Penny Palfrey in 2002 with a near best time of 9:09.77. The time also erased the USMS record of 9:29.90 set by Suzanne Heim-Bowen in 1998.

Two days later, Pipes-Neilsen attacked the 40-44 USMS Long Distance Record for the 5K Postal swim (5,000-meters in a long course pool). Pipes-Neilsen’s previous best for this distance was a 1:03.28.06 done in 1999. The record for the 40-44 age group was a speedy 1:04.58.29 set by Suzanne Simpson in 2002.

Pipes-Neilsen went out hard, splitting 18:32 for the first 1,500. She took a 15 second break, then split an 18:43 for the second 1500. Two more 15-second breaks were taken before she stopped the clock in an amazing 1:02:53.42. Even with approximately 45 seconds of rest added in, Pipes-Neilsen still averaged 1:15.5 for 50 X 100 meters.

Finally, on June 29, Pipes-Neilsen competed in a USA-S meet hosted by North Coast Aquatics in La Jolla and established two new USMS records. Competing in the 13 and over, Pipes-Neilsen swam a near best time of 1:04.74 for the 100-meter butterfly, erasing the mark of 1:05.39 she set just one month ago at the SPEEDO Grand Challenge. In the 800-meter free, she swam a 9:21.75 -- almost as fast as her short course mark -- and took over three seconds off the previous national record of 9:24.77 she set 2002.

As often as Pipes-Neilsen sets records, one might assume that it is as simple process. NOT! In fact, the easiest part of setting a record is swimming fast. The real challenge is to have it recognized by either USMS or FINA.

First, the pool must be measured by a steel tape (in every lane) by an official and be certified to be of proper length. Then, an official application must be filled out and submitted along with a copy of the heat and lane assignment, official results and a copy of the electronic timing system signed by the meet referee. For national records there is no time limit. FINA records must be submitted within 60 days of the swim.

Now here is the tricky part: USMS will recognize swims done at a USA-S meet (as long as the pool has been measured and the certificate is on file), but FINA will not. In order to break a FINA world record you must swim it at a sanctioned Masters meet. So, some US national records are faster than the world record.