Four World Records Highlight First Day of Euro Masters Champs

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. July 3. FOUR World Masters records – by swimmers from four different nations – and 16 European Masters marks were washed away on the first of six days of competition at the 2001 European Masters Swimming Championships in balmy Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

The meet is about three times the size of the U.S. Long Course Championships, with 3,724 swimmers from 31 countries entered in the pool events – 2,154 men and 1,570 women. The largest contingent is from Germany with 1,082 swimmers. Italy follows with 486, then Spain (339), Great Britain (305), France (292) and Russia (144).

There are 6,516 individual men's entries, 4,707 women's. Some 453 relay teams account for 738 relays.

In addition, there are 451 swimmers (314 men and 137 women) entered in the open water swim, plus 280 divers (160 men, 120 women).

It's a B-I-G meet!!

Four World Marks

The meet got off to a bang today with one world record set in each of the four events contested.

Germany's Brigitte Merten was the first record-setter, clocking 2:56.46 to win the 200 meter individual medley for women 55-59. The old world mark was 2:59.15, set by Japan's Yoshiko Osaki in 1995.

The former European mark was Germany's Harriet Berger's 3:02.50. Spain's Susana Barkley was second in a strong 3:02.55, while Berger was third in 3:03.38.

When she finished her race, Merten owned the European record in the 200 IM simultaneously in three age groups: 45-49 (2:48.7), 50-54 (2:52.1) and 55-59 (2:56.46). Her 45-49 record was erased several heats later.

Russia's Alexei Vlasenko, 36, accounted for the one world record set in the men's 200 IM. On the strength of his 37.81 second breaststroke split, the Russian touched home in 2:12.03, taking almost a second off the USA's Jerry Frentsos' record of 2:13.02 set last year.

Vlasenko's time also bettered the Euro mark of 2:14.40 held by Holland's Edwin Van Norden. Van Norden finished second today in 2:13.99, also under his own former European standard.

Britain's indomitable Jane Asher slashed precisely 26 seconds off the global 800 meter freestyle record for women 70-74 with a blistering 12:49.45. The USA's June Krauser was the victim of Asher's onslaught, as her 13:15.45 went by the boards after lasting for five years.

Asher's time also obliterated the European record of 15:41.68 held by Sweden's Britt Grilli. Inspired by her British rival, Grilli improved by over a minute to clock 14:37.27 for second place.

Asher now simultaneously holds the 800 freestyle European record in the 60-64, 65-69 and 70-74 age groups.

Italy's Fabrizzio Momoni, 63, became the fourth world record-setter today, easing the USA's Drury Gallagher from the record book with his 10:26.97 for the 800m free. Gallagher's global mark for men 60-64 was 10:29.40, set only last year.

Momoni also destroyed his own European record of 10:45.99 set two years ago. Must've been the pizza!

Women's European records

Three additional women's European records were broken in the 200 IM.

In the 40-44 age group, Germany's Barbara Gellrich clocked 2:37.22 to break Lesley Wilde's continental standard of 2:39.0. Britain's Wilde was fourth in 2:41.18.

Atie Pijtak-Radermsa of Holland notched a 45-49 record with her 2:43.64. The time broke Merten's record of 2:48.7.

Finally, Germany's Christel Schulz, 61, slivered two tenths of a second off her own 60-64 mark of 3:08.40 when she touched in 3:08.20.

All three remaining 800 meter freestyle records were set by the current record-holders. Like Schulz, Britain's Nuala Muir-Cochrane, 37, also sliced a few tenths off her own record. Her time today of 9:36.22 broke her old standard of 9:36.95. Both times are faster than the record in the 30-34 age group.

Italy's Cristina Tarantino was another swimmer who broke her own European record in the 800, but she did it in spectacular fashion. Tarantino's 10:17.05 for the 45-49 age group was more than half a pool length ahead of her old mark of 10:40.31. Her record, too, is faster than the continental standard in the next younger age group of 40-44 (which stands at 10:20.57).

Finally, Belgium's Virginia Keteleen, 76, chopped over 13 seconds off her existing 75-79 record of 15:57.67 when she hit the pads in 15:44.22.

Men's European Records

In addition to Alexei Vlassenko's world and European records, two other Euro marks were set in the men's 200 IM.

Britain's Simon Veale just squeaked by countryman's Eddie Riach's standard of 2:25.19 in the 45-49 age group, coming home in 2:25.10. Riach was fourth in 2:27.75.

In the 50-54 age group, Alexander Mills of Norway became the first European over 50 to crack 2:30. Mill's 2:29.69 hacked over four seconds from Brit Sandy Galletly's standard of 2:33.73.

Finally, four continental records in the men's 800 free fell in addition to Fabrizzio Momoni's world/Euro mark in the 60-64 age group.

Germany's Guido Hemeltjen touched in 8:59.71, becoming the first European over 40 to better 9 minutes. The old 40-44 record was held by the Czech Republic's Daniel Machek at 9:03.33, and was set only last year.

Don Bland showed there was nothing bland about him as he negotiated the 16 laps of freestyle in 12:28.70, eclipsing the 70-74 record of 12:31.52 set by Spaniard
Jesus Dominguez in 1996. Bland previously held the European record in the 65-69 age group (11:41.70) until it was brokn earlier this year.

Frenchman Maurice Lucien took the measure of a nine year-old record in the 75-79 age group, Germany's Heinz Arendt's 13:45.92. Lucien touched in 13:16.55, while Germany's Karl Hauter's 13:37.00 was also under the old record.

Julius Feicht, Germany, was top man in the 80-84 age group, finishing in 15:38.53, more than half a minute ahead of Italian Giovanni DeSilva's 1996 standard of 16:10.51.

–By Phillip Whitten

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