By Phillip Whitten
LONG BEACH, Calif., Jan. 2. THE Holiday Invitational, held for the ninth time last month in Long Beach, California, reasserted it's claim as the top Masters short course meters meet in the United States. The meet, held Dec. 7-9, also doubles as the SPMA Championship.
Twenty-two individual Masters world records were swept away at the Belmont Plaza Pool, site of the 1976 US Olympic Trials, with 20 being set by the men. Three men accounted for the majority of the records, setting four apiece.
Abrahams, Bobbie and Graham
Rich Abrahams and Bob Strand, both competing in the 55-59 age group, were among the quadruple record-setters, while Graham Johnston, swimming in the 70-74 division, was the third.
Abrahams, Rocky Mountain Masters, showed he is fully recovered from shoulder surgery last year, as he blasted the global marks in the sprint freestyle and fly events.
Abrahams sped to a 25.00 time in the 50m free, well under Michael Ahern's 26.39 standard for men 55-59 set just one yer earlier. Ahern was the victim in the 100m free as well, as his 57.85 mark set at this meet in 2000 could not withstand Abrahams' assault. The Coloradan touched in 56.51.
The fly sprints told much the same story. Abrahams clocked 27.74 in the 50 and 1:03.87 in the 100. The old record in the 50 belonged to Jim Dragon at 28.57. Two swimmers had shared the former 100 meter mark at 1:06.29: the USA's Bob Poiletman and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder.
The Olympic Club's Bob Strand took the 55-59 breaststroke records into a new dimension, in the process breaking one of the oldest records on the books.
Strand clocked 32.18 in the 50m breast, almost precisely one second under the 33.17 established by Japan's Hiroshi Kotegawa in 1993. That was just for starters.
In the 100, Strand split 33.26 at the 50 before racing to a 1:11.53. Mani Sanguily's old mark of 1:16.32 had stood since 1988, back when Strand was a mere whippersnapper of 42.
Strand added the 200 in 2:38.76, slashing almost 10 seconds off Tex Haraszti's 2:49.21 swum in 1998. How's this for dominance?: Strand split 1:15.92 at the 100 — faster than any other man his age has ever swum a straight 100 meters!
The Olympic Club denizen added a final record when he clocked 1:07.15 in the 100 IM, lowering Michael Ahern's 1:08.00 set a year earlier.
Graham Johnston had a field day in the men's 70-74 age group, slashing and cutting venerable records seemingly with ease. In the 200m free he clocked 2:24.09, more than 10 seconds faster than Bill Phillips' 2:34.64 from 1998. He negative split the 400 meters (2:36.19-2:35.79) to slash 23+ seconds from Frank Piemme's 5:35.49 that had lasted six years.
Turning to the medleys, Johnston became the first man over 70 to crack 3 minutes for the 200m IM, touching in 2:57.78. The old mark of 3:00.88 was set by Spain's Jesus Dominguez in 1996. Finally, Johnston lowered Piemme's six year-old 400 IM standard from 6:38.98 to 6:26.42.
Other Men's Record-Setters
Paul Smith came down from the mountain and left havoc and devastation in the 40-44 record book in his wake. The Vail Masters ace returned to southern California (he swam for UCSB as an undergrad) to set Masters world marks in the 50, 100 and 200m freestyle.
In the 50, Smith's 24.00 just edged the 24.09 set by Brent Barnes, swimming for Japan, in 1999. In the 100, Smith split 25.79 on his way to a 52.44 performance that was almost a second faster than Rick Abbott's former mark of 53.25 set in '95.
Smith completed his record-setting with a 1:56.44 effort in the 200 free (split: 56.53), to lower Hess Yntema's 1:57.83 from 1995.
Jim McConica, who graced the cover of the March/April 2001 issue of SWIM Magazine after being named one of the top 12 Masters swimmers of 2000, continued his record-setting ways in Long Beach. Known primarily as a distance swimmer, McConica demonstrated an impressive sprint when he clocked 55.81 for the 100 free (27.28 split). McConica owned the old mark of 56.32 set in 2000.
In the 400 IM, McConica became the oldest swimmer ever to crack five minutes in the 400 IM, when he put together a sterling 4:58.93 effort. Todd Spieker had owned the old record with his 5:12.31 from 1999.
Ojai-Santa Barbara's Frank Piemme was the second swimmer to take two world records, but his performance was certainly the most unusual: Piemme blasted the world marks in the shortest and longest freestyle events on the program.
In the 50, Piemme, 76, sprinted to a 31.63 clocking, lowering the 32.09 set by Japan's Keijiro Nakamura in 1999, though Piemme recorded a slightly faster time in October. Piemme's two-lap sprint came a day after he carved almost 19 seconds from the 1500 meter record with his 24:27.63 effort. The old mark — Aldo daRosa's 24:46.19 — had lasted eight years.
The final men's mark was set by 1960 Olympic star Jeff Farrell, who ages up in 2002. In his farewell effort in the 60-64 age group, Farrell clocked 2:18.58 (1:06.04 split) to take almost three seconds from Graham Johnston's 2:21.31 set in 1995.
Susan Jones Roy Gets Two
Olympian Susan Jones Roy was the sole record-setter among the women, taking two global standards in the women's 50-54 age group.
Swimming for Tamalpais Masters, Roy, 53, smashed the 50 and 100m breaststroke marks. In the 50, her 37.94 was more than half a second faster than Australian Jan McLeod's 38.48 from 1997.
Roy was even stronger in the 100 meters, clocking 1:22.53, to take almost two seconds from the 1:24.45 record set by Germany's Christiane Heeren.
An additional 12 American records were set in Long Beach, including six by SCAQ's Dawn Heckman in the women's 19-24 age group:
Dawn Heckman, 24, SCAQ, women 19-24:
200 free: 2:06.21
400 free: 4:25.13
800 free: 8:58.71
200 fly: 2:23.78
200 IM: 2:25.87
400 IM: 4:58.55
Susan Jones Roy Jones, 53, women 50-54:
200 breast: 3:03.98
Mike Shaffer, 36, VCM, men 35-39:
200 free: 1:55.54
Don Smith, 40, VCM, men 40-44:
50 breast: 30.31
Philipp Djang, 47, RGSC, men 45-49:
100 back: 1:03.36
Frank Piemme, 76, OSB, men 75-79:
200 IM: 3:20.12
VCM men's 160+ 800 free relay: 8:05.09
(Jim McConica, Tim Hedrick, Don Smith, Mike Shaffer)