TUCSON, Arizona, June 14. WHILE several elite younger swimmers were posting impressive times last weekend at the long course meters Southwest Classic on the campus of the University of Arizona, four Masters swimmers were breaking relay records.
Monica Bailey (52), Becki Major (49), Stephanie Martin (53) and Caroline Duffield (47) started their weekend with the 400 free relay. Their time of 4:32.41 beat the U.S. Masters Swimming national record of 4:34.90 in the 200-239 age group that was held by Pacific Northwest Masters since 2009. They were well off the world record of 4:20.68 posted by South Africa's Cape Town Masters in March, but the Tucson team can be happy with the second-fastest performance in their age group in history.
The foursome got some revenge on Cape Town Masters in the 800 free relay. With Cape Town posting a 10:02.67 in February, the Tucson relay squad had the time in their sights. With their final time of 10:00.03, they nearly became the oldest relay swimmers under the 10-minute barrier.
“It was so exciting,” Major told the Tucson Citizen newspaper. “The crowd was on their feet. The kids were behind our blocks, the girls in the lanes next to us were wishing us good luck as they were getting ready to swim.”
Incidentally, the 800 free relay also broke the U.S. national record of 10:05.40. The swim marks the first Masters world record for Major, Duffield and Martin. Bailey previously held the world record in the 200 free relay as part of Lone Star Masters.