TUCSON, Arizona, January 20. DARIAN Townsend nearly added another notch to his list of Masters swimming records yesterday at the Polar Bear Classic, putting up a very fast 100 individual medley at the short course yards meet.
Townsend, a 2004 Olympic champion for South Africa in the 400 free relay, routed the field with a 48.77 in the sprint IM. He nearly eclipsed the U.S. Masters Swimming national record of 48.27 set in 2010 by American Olympian Mark Gangloff in the 25-29 age group. Townsend’s split at 50 yards was 21.99, compared to 22.11 for Gangloff. Though Townsend has Olympic pedigree in freestyle, Gangloff was an Olympic finalist in the 100 breast, and his 25-yard breaststroke split was likely too much for Townsend to overcome in the freestyle leg.
Townsend, 29, already owns three short course yards national records in the 25-29 age group, all done at last month’s USA Swimming nationals: 42.13 in the 100 free, 1:31.93 in the 200 free and 1:41.88 in the 200 IM. Though FINA specifies that world records (only done in short course meters and long course meters pools) must be done in meets sanctioned by a Masters swimming federation, USMS allows national records to be set in any sanctioned meet, going as high as the Olympics. For a time outside a Masters meet to be recognized for USMS national records, the athlete must submit the time personally for recognition.
Townsend also swam the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles, posting times of 20.36, 44.40 and 1:37.34, respectively. He still has a long way to go in order to break the national record in the 50 free, as Fred Bousquet posted a sizzling 18.67 in 2010.
Townsend has more time to chip away at Gangloff’s record, as he doesn’t turn 30 until August 28. For purposes of meters competitions in Masters meets, however, Townsend is already 30 years old, since FINA stipulates that a swimmer’s age for SCM and LCM meets is their age on December 31 of that year.