Battle of the Titans at Masters Nationals: Johnson vs. Johnston

By Scott Rabalais
FEDERAL WAY, Wash., Aug. 19. IT came down to the fourth and final day. Both swimmers had set world
records earlier in the day. Both set a handful of world records during the first three days of the meet. Both are legends in Masters swimming. And, coincidentally, their last names are spelled similarly.

The 100-meter freestyle finally afforded Ron Johnson, Arizona Masters, and Graham Johnston, Team Texas, the chance to see who reigned supreme in the men's 70-74 age group. Many had expected a showdown in the 400 IM on Day Two, but Johnston pulled out due to a hamstring injury. So, it would be settled in the sprint freestyle event.

At the 50-meter mark, Ron Johnston has a lead of only 33/100 of a second. Many believed Johnston, who excels in the distance events, would have the stamina to make up the difference. But Johnson, known for his
competitiveness and toughness in the pool, broadened the gap and won, 1:06.18 to 1:07.36. Johnson's swimming continues to flourish, despite losing part of a finger in a freak accident at the International Hall of Fame pool two years ago.

"It didn't bother my swimming much, but it really affected my guitar lessons," said the multi-talented Johnson.

By the way, both gentlemen eclipsed the previous world record of 1:08.27. Expect a rematch.

Just a few heats after the 70-74 duel, Cav Cavanaugh, 66, showed he may be poised to break Johnson's world record in a few years, clocking a world-record 1:02.93 in the 65-69 age group.

Top female competitor Laura Val made it a perfect "six for six" in the world record books by posting two more all-time bests in the 50-54 category. She won the 100 free in a blazing 1:01.13, dropping five seconds off of the previous record, and the 50 butterfly, finishing in 30.72. The only other swimmer in the meet to set a new world record on six occasions was June Krauser in 75-79.

Other world and USMS records that fell on Sunday were as follows:

Men 400 Free
Brett Phillips 40-44, Humu Masters Swim Team, 4:15.57 (World/USMS)
Graham Johnston, 70-74, Team Texas, 5:16.36 (World/ USMS)

Women 100 Free
Florence Carr, 75-79, Florida Maverick Masters, 1:32.33 (USMS)
Betty Christian, 80-84, Missouri Valley, 1:42.38 (USMS)

Men 200 Breast
Jamie Hemmerle, 45-49, 1776, 2:39.53 (World/USMS)
Rick Colella, 50-54, Pacific Northwest Aquatics, 2:39.08 (World/USMS)

Women 200 Breast
Caroline Krattli, 35-39, San Diego Swim Masters, 2:41.76 (World/USMS)
Colette Crabbe, 45-49, Oregon Masters, 2:57.24 (World/USMS)
Jennifer Merritt, 50-54, Spondon, 3:05.91 (World/USMS)
Bonnie Pronk, 55-59, Masters Swimming British Columbia, 3:13.90 (World)
Ann Hirsch, 70-74, Walnut Creek Masters, 3:49.84 (World/USMS)
Betty Christian, 80-84, Missouri Valley, 5:00.57 (USMS)

Men 50 Fly
Paul Smith, 40-44, Vail Swimming, 26.30 (World/USMS)
Ronald Johnson, 70-74, Arizona Masters, 32.11 (World/USMS)

Women 50 Fly
Beth Baker, 40-44, Virginia Masters, 29.59 (World/USMS)

Women 200 Back
Beth Baker, 40-44, Virginia Masters, 2:33.95 (World/USMS)
Patty Landers, 45-49, Walnut Creek Masters, 2:38.04 (World/USMS)
Barb Gundred, 50-54, Pacific Northwest Aquatics, 2:47.60 (World/USMS)
Bunny Cederlund, 80-84, Space Coast Masters, 4:06.19 (World/USMS)

Medley Relays
Oregon Masters, Men 240-279, 2:06.28 (World/USMS)
R Smith, A Stark, B Petersen, D Radcliff

Walnut Creek, Women 280-319, 3:23.24 (USMS)
J Howell, A Hirsch, M Kraetzer, J Alexander

In the team competition, Pacific Northwest Aquatics won the Large Team division for women, men and combined.

For medium teams, Walnut Creek Masters took the combined and women's titles, with Arizona Masters winning the men's.

Among small teams, Tamalpais Aquatics Masters earned the combined crown, with Gold Coast Masters and San Mateo Master Marlins taking the women's and men's titles, respectively.

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