VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia, December 8. SEVEN months ago at a meet in Seattle, Wash., Chris Stevenson was lunging for the wall at the end of a 200 backstroke race and broke his hand. Today, in Virginia Beach, competing in the same event, he got his hand to the wall safely but broke something else – his first world record.
Stevenson, 43, an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Richmond, touched in 2:06.11, crushing the former world Masters short course meters record of 2:08.26. Later in the meet, he added global standards in the men's 40-44 age group in both the 100 back (57.47) and 50 back (26.80).
All three marks, which are also United States Masters Swimming records, had been previously established by Eric Ericson on Dec. 8, 2002, five years ago to the day. Ericson and Stevenson were teammates on the swimming team at the University of North Carolina in the 1980s.
The record-breaking performances took place at the 27th annual Virginia Masters Fall Meet, held at the Bayside Recreation Center's 25-meter pool in Virginia Beach.
Maximizing his turns with phenomenal speed underwater and riding high between walls, Stevenson slapped his way into the record books with his unorthodox style, which includes an undulating dolphin kick instead of the conventional backstroke kick. In the 200, he split 29.56, 31.71, 32.28, and 32.56 on his way to a 2:06.11.
About an hour later in the 100 back, he was out in a blistering 27.82 and brought it home in 29.65 to nip Ericson's former mark of 57.66 by 19 one-hundredths of a second.
Stevenson finished the day with the one-lap sprint, charging to the wall in 26.80 to erase Ericson's previous standard of 27.28.
Stevenson, representing the Virginia Masters Swim Team, practices with NOVA of Virginia Aquatics in Richmond under Coach Mark Kutz.
Special thanks to Dave Holland for contributing this report.