By Phillip Whitten
PHOENIX, June 24. THREE Masters swimmers, competing in two meets, set awesome US Masters Swimming (USMS) national records over the weekend.
Dennis Baker at TYR Meet of Champions
Dennis Baker, Oregon Masters, blasted his own long course men's 40-44 200 meter butterfly mark when he placed fifth at the TYR Meet of Champions in Mission Viejo. Baker, just shy of his 41st birthday, clocked an amazing 2:05.84 (Mexico's and MV's Juan Veloz, 19, won the race in 2:00.78.)
Baker, a 1980 Olympic Trials finalist, destroyed the US Masters mark of 2:07.82 he set last year, a time that also stands as the world mark. FINA only accepts times swum in Masters competition for world record consideration, but USMS accepts times swum in USA Swimming meets for American record consideration. So Baker's American record will stand two seconds faster than his world mark.
Baker's time also betters the 35-39 US and world mark of 2:06.74 set by former University of Arizona star Jeff Stuart at the 1996 Masters World Championships in Sheffield, England.
Baker, like Stuart a U. of A. Wildcat in his wild college days, had a go at Paul Carter's men's 40-44 US and world mark of 57.57 for the 100 meter butterfly, but his fine 57.97 fell four-tenths of a second short.
Jane Hill and Ron Johnson at Grand Canyon Games
Jane Swaggerty Hill and Ron Johnson washed away two barely-dry national short course records while competing yesterday at the Grand Canyon State Games, held at the recreation pool on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.
Hill, 50, an Olympic bronze medalist in the 100 meter backstroke in 1968, blasted to a 28.99 clocking for the 50 yard backstroke, erasing Laura Val's 29.69 set earlier this year. Val was SWIM Magazine's
"Masters Swimmer of the Year" for 2001.
The women's 50 yard backstroke in the 50-54 age group has taken a battering this year. Standing at 32.63 at the start of 2002, it has been smashed by five different women: Hill, Val, Joel Feldman (30.52), Susan Halfacre (30.62) and Barb Gundred (31.09).
Hill, swimming for the Phoenix Swim Club Masters, also took aim at Val's record in the 100 yard backstroke, but her 1:05.28 fell about a second shy. It is, however, the second fastest 100 backstroke ever swum by a woman in the 50-54 division.
Ron Johnson, 71, took down another still-dripping national mark, the 100 yard freestyle for men, 70-74. Ironically, the record belonged to Jane Hill's husband, Don Hill.
Johnson, the Sun Devils Masters coach, opted not to swim the 100 free at Short Course Nationals in Honolulu, instead swimming six other events and setting national marks in all six.
Before May, no man over the age of 70 had ever bettered one minute for the 100 free. In a colossal duel, Don Hill edged Graham Johnson at the Nationals, 58.35 to 58.86, as both men easily slipped under the magic one minute barrier.
Yesterday, in Tempe, Ron Johnson took Hill's mark down another notch, with his 58.26 second performance.
He also took aim at Hill's 50 yard standard of 25.99, but fell short with a 26.30.