MESA, Arizona, November 3. DARIAN Townsend, an Olympic champion from the 2004 Games, competed in his first Masters swimming competition today and made the most of it with five short course meters world records in the 25-29 age group — in a span of two hours.
At the Fall Invitational hosted by Mesa Aquatics, Townsend, 29, started his day with a stunning 53.47 in the 100 IM. The former record of 54.10 was held by someone Townsend knows well. Adam Ritter was a teammate of Townsend’s at the University of Arizona from 2005 to 2007 and the two were quite competitive in the day in the 200 IM, with Ritter winning the NCAA title in that event in 2007 and Townsend succeeding him in 2008.
The 100 IM record that Ritter set was just three weeks old, set at the Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic. Ritter also swam a 1:46.52 in the 200 freestyle at that meet to break one of the oldest Masters world records, and Townsend lowered the world record even further with a 1:44.90. To put Townsend’s time into perspective, it would have placed fourth at the most recent stop of the FINA World Cup in Qatar and just nine tenths of a second behind the winner.
In between those two swims, Townsend popped off a 24.55 in the 50 backstroke, cutting down Rodrigo Trivino’s mark of 25.02 from January 2012. Though Townsend is mostly known as a freestyler based on his gold medal as part of South Africa’s 400 free relay in 2004, is also a 2008 Olympic semifinalist in the 200 IM, and obviously has plenty of talent in all four strokes.
Townsend put that talent on display mere minutes after his 200 free swim when he broke record number four in the 100 fly with a 52.45. He just got under Daniel Belini’s 52.92 from 2009. Townsend’s swim would have also fallen a little shy of third-place money at the World Cup in Qatar.
In the final event on Townsend’s schedule, he posted a 22.08 in the 50 free to break Olympian Stefan Nystrand’s seven-year-old record of 22.11.
It should be noted that Townsend’s swims came three days after the deadline for consideration for the 2013 Swimming World Magazine World Masters Swimmers of the Year ballot. But it’s a foregone conclusion that Townsend will be a candidate in 2014.