Abrahams, Emery and Vitazka Snag World Records on Final Day of US Masters Nationals: O*H*I*O Wins Team Crown

By Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen

CLEVELAND, August 18. THE fourth and final day of competition did not disappoint as over 26 world and national records fell to an interesting mixture of old and young, veterans and newcomers.

All told, 60 global and/or national standards were set during the four day meet hosted by Ohio Masters and held at the Robert F. Busbey Natatorium at Cleveland State University.

As expected, O*H*I*O Masters won the women's, men's and combined team titles in the Large Teams division.

Here's a rundown of today's record-breakers and the team scoring:

400m Free
Honza Vitazka showed his versatility with a new world and USMS best in the 400 free. Vitazka's time of 4:00.98 bettered Briton's Steven Meller's 4:01.10, as well as Alex Kostich's USMS time of 4:03.63 set at the Pan Pacs in 1997. Earlier in the meet, Vitazka established new world marks in the 100 fly, 200 IM and a USMS record in the 400 IM.

On Friday, Dan Stephenson, 45, of Michigan Master's missed the listed world record in the 200 IM by a mere 15-hundredths of a second. On Sunday, the clock stopped in his favor when he squeaked passed Jim McConica's world and USMS 400 free record by a mere three-hundredths of a second. Stephenson's time of 4:21.13 just barely bettered McConica's 4:21.16 set in 1999. However, Stephenson will need to drop some time when he reaches the age of 50, since McConica's WR in the 50-54 age group is a much faster 4:19.47.

Roger Franks proved to the crowd that he can swim just as well on his stomach as he can on his back. Franks, 75, nabbed his second world mark for the meet in the 400 free. Franks shattered the previous world best of 6:17.36 established by Japan's Domei Suzuki in 1996, with an impressive 6:13.05.

50m Back
The women's 50-54 age group 50m back record sure took a beating this summer. In July, the terror from Tamalpais, Laura Val, lowered her own world mark from 33.81 to 33.67. A week later, Arizona's Jane Swaggerty-Hill, 51, snatched the record from Val with a time of 33.52. Not one to rest on her laurels, Swaggerty-Hill (a 1968 Olympic bronze medalist) took the mark down again to a very quick 33.12 at the Southwest Zone Championships held last weekend in Irvine, CA .Today Swaggerty-Hill dipped under the 33 second barrier and into a new zip code with an amazing 32.87.

Backstroke specialist Clay Britt, 41, of Montgomery Ancient Mariners set his second record for the 40-44 age group with a speedy 27.83 50 back. The previous world best was 28.69 swum by Peter Rocca in 1999.

Hugh Wilder, 55, of Palmetto Masters, slid past Robert Smith's world mark of 31.52, done in 1998, with a time of 31.20. Two days ago, Wilder established a new world and USMS record in the 100 back with a time of 1:08.55.

100m Breast
Jennifer Merritt from Germany was the sole owner of a new world record in this event. Merritt, 51, lowered her own mark of 1:26.45 to a 1:26.33. She also broke Susan Jones-Roy's USSMS record of 1:26.60.

200 Fly
Columbia Master's Robert Poiletmen, 59, is another example of getting older, getting faster. Poiletmen swam his fastest time for the 200 fly in at least four years when he shaved almost two tenths of a second off his own global standard of 2:33.48 with a time of 2:33.32.

Eighty-six years-young Anton Cerer of Ohio Masters finished the meet with a record breaking swim in a tough event. Cerer swam a of 4:57.41 200 fly, breaking the 85-89 age group record of 5:06.00 set by Walter Pfeiffer in 1999 by over eight seconds.

100m Free
Swimming for Montgomery Ancient Mariners, 41-year old Elizabeth Emery continued to stun the Masters community with her third world record in the 40-44 age group in as many days. A virtual unknown prior to the meet, Emery blazed her way to a 59.13 100 free, a time that once again was the fastest overall for the event. Emery took seven tenths of a second off Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen's world mark of 59.90 set in June, and a tad bit more off the USMS of 59.80 also set by Pipes-Neilsen in May.

Richard Abrahams' final swim netted him another gold and his third global standard for the meet. Abrahams, 57, lowered Tim Garton's world record of 58.41 set in 1998, to an impressive 58.23. Abrahams' time would have won the men's 19-24 division.

Team Scoring

Women's Team Scores
O*H*I*O Masters took top honors in the women's scoring, Large Teams division with 838 points, followed by Michigan Masters with 665 and Niagara Masters with 481.

In the Medium Teams category, North Carolina was tops with 414 points. Second went to Virginia Masters with 383, while DCM's 338 was good for third.

Florida Maverick Masters scored 292 to take the Small Teams division, ahead of Metro Masters with 248 and Montgomery Ancient Mariners with 234.

Men's Team Scores
O*H*I*O Masters was even more dominant among the men in the Large Teams division, amassing 1239 points. Michigan was second with 749 while Great Ohio took third with 506.

The Medium Teams men's title went to Illinois Masters with 491 points — one point more than Gold Coast. North Cazrolina was third with 480, to make this team race, by far, the closest and most exciting.

Florida Mavericks Masters copped the Small Teams men's title with 268 points. Georgia Masters was second (243) while Patriot Masters (179.5) just edged San Diego and City of Las Vegas for third.

Combined Team Scores
If you win the men's scoring title and you win the women's, it's a pretty sure bet (though not a certain one) that you'll nab the combined title. O*H*I*O Masters did just that, scoring a humungus 2,301 points to swim away with the combined score trophy in the Large Teams division. Michigan was second with 1508, followed by Illinois with 1049.

In the Medium Teams race, North Carolina was the easy winner with 991 points. Second went to Niagara (821) while Virginia was third (764).

Patriot Masters was the combined Small Teams winner with 328.5 points. Walnut Creek was second with 310, while Metro placed third with 281.5.

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