Feature by Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, September 18. IN United States Masters Swimming, the women's 45-49 age group often features some of the toughest, fastest competition around. With names like Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, Sue Walsh, and Laura Val dominating the record books, other swimmers must be on top of their game to have a chance at victory. One swimmer who's done just that lately is Oregon Masters swimmer Arlene Delmage.
At last month's USMS Long Course National Championships in Gresham, Ore., Delmage, 46, turned in five solid swims to garner first-place finishes in the 50 fly (30.04), 100 fly (1:06.42), and 200 fly (2:36.02), along with a second-place swim in the 200 IM (2:41.77) and third-place time in the 200 breast (3:10.90). Her 100 fly time erased Pipes-Neilsen's world record of 1:06.53, set in March of this year. Delmage had mixed feelings about her performance at the meet.
"My goals generally are to swim the same times or better than I did the year before," she said. "My 50 fly was probably the biggest surprise. My biggest disappointment was the 200 fly. I tried a new strategy and it clearly failed."
Delmage's journey to the top certainly hasn't been an easy one. Over the course of her career, she's had six surgeries on her right knee to repair her ACL, with more to come. Just being able to swim breaststroke legally is quite an accomplishment.
Thankfully, Arlene's knee hasn't taken too much of a pounding, as she usually trains just three days a week. In the past, she's competed in open water swims as well, including all of the postal swims last year, and she even participated in synchronized swimming as a youngster. Being part of a team and traveling for open water events was a unique and rewarding experience for her.
"It always felt like such an honor to be on a team like that, and when you travel to the open water swims it really gives you an opportunity to hang out more and get to know the other swimmers. They are such a great group of people," she said.
Delmage also has another "team" to take care of: her family. She has a husband and three boys, Mitchell, age 9, Sean, age 7, and Davis, age 5, who need her love and support at home. But, of course, there's always time for her swimming family, too.
"What I like most about swimming is the workouts and camaraderie," she said. "There is nothing more satisfying to me then pounding a set with some of my best swim buddies."