By Jason M. Parker and Phil Whitten
SAVANNAH, Georgia, August 15. DESPITE the best efforts of global meteorological forces, the 2004 USMS Long Course National Championships breezed to a close today amid universal praise that found the meet to be among the best Masters nationals ever.
Sandwiched between Hurricanes Bonnie and Charley, it was certainly among the most memorable.
Five more world records fell this day, all of them set by previous record-setters.
Trip Hedrick notched his third global standard of the meet in the men's 50-54 division, this time slashing the 100 freestyle standard by more than a second to 55.41. The old mark was 56.44, set by Lee Mench last year.
Tom Wolf scored his third record in the same age group, dipping below the 30-second barrier for 50 meters backstroke with his 29.81. Casey Clafin's 30.36, the previous record, had stood only one year. Wolf made a clean sweep of the dorsal records in Savannah.
In the women's 80-84 age group, Lois Kivi Nochman recorded her third global standard when she hacked some 44 seconds off Jean Durston's 10 year-old 200 meter fly mark of 5:24.52. Nochman flew to a 4:40.07 time.
The final two world records were swum in the mixed freestyle relay, and New England Masters accounted for both.
In the 200+ age group, the team of Homer Lane, Jacki Hirsty, Joel Feldmann and Stu Cromarty touched in 1:49.85, destroying the previous record of 1:52.06 set by … New England Masters in 2002. Feldmann was a member of that relay squad as well.
In the 320+ division, the NEM team of Jim Edwards, Billie Burrill, Petey Smith and Ted Haartz clocked 2:57.49, erasing the 2:58.96 swum earlier this year by Sunway Yuko of Japan.
In addition to the world records, there were three new American marks set in Savannah. Joann Leilich took the women's 65-69 USMS standard to 44.24, almost a second under Jayne Bruner's 45.22 from 2001.
In the women's 75-79 division, Sylvia Eisele swam the same race in 51.76 seconds, wiping out Penny Taylor's 52.93 set just last month.
Bart Greenberg also notchged a 50 breast record, his coming in the men's 80-84 division. Greenberg's 46.09 eased Max Von Isser's 1999 standard of 46.37 from the record book.
In the 200m fly for women 55-59, Barbara Dunbar slashed the listed record with her 2:59.16. But Dunbar has a pending time of 2:53.74 swum two weeks ago at the Zone Championships.
An exhausted Meet Director Scott Rabalais breathed a well-earned sigh of relief after the final race was swum. "Everyone had a great time," he said. "I think things went remarkably smoothly, especially considering Bonnie and Charley. Overall, I'd say this meet far exceeded my expectations."
Rabalais said he thought Trip Hedrick was the meet's outstanding swimmer. Hedrick set three world records in the men's 50-54 age group, including history's first sub-one-minute 100 meter butterfly.