Laura Val Sets Seven Masters World Marks at Pacific Championships

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., July 20. TEN Masters world records were set at the Pacific Masters Long Course Championships, held in Santa Cruz, California, July 12-14.

Laura Val, 52 and representing Tamalpais Masters, accounted fot seven of them. Marjorie Sharpe had two and Ed Cazalet knocked down one.

Val, SWIM Magazine's "Masters Swimmer of the Year" for 2001, continued her onslaught on the record book, setting marks in freestyle, backstroke and medley for women 50-54.

In the 400 meter free, Val posted a time of 4:47.93, making her the first woman over 50 to crack five minutes. Celeste Miller set the old mark of 5:00.65 two years ago. In the 800 free, Val became the first woman over 50 to dip under 10 minutes, touching in 9:52.55. Again, it was Miller's record — 10:17.70 set in 2000 — that Val shattered.

Val collected all three records in the backstroke events, each formerly held by a difference swimmer. The Tamalpais Terror clocked 33.67 for the 50, 1:14.87 for the 100 and 2:46.81 for the 200. The old standards were 34.87 (Sakoto Takeuji, Japan, 1992), 1:18.36 (C. Panighetti, USA, 2000) and 2:48.10 (Barbara Burazeau, France, 2001).

In the 200 IM, Val clocked 2:41.31, nine seconds under the old mark of 2:50.32 set by Miller in 2000. In the 400 IM, Val slashed through the previously inviolate six-minute barrier, swimming 5:42.80. Barbara Dunbar was the former record-holder with her 6:03.12 from 1999.

Stanford Masters' Marjorie Sharpe swam true to her name, setting world Masters records in the 100 and 400 meter freestyle for women 85-89.

Sharpe, 85, became the first woman her age to crack two minutes for the 100m freestyle, clocking 1:55.46. The previous record, 2:00.66, was set five years ago by Japan's Ume Wada.

Wada lost another mark to Sharpe, this time in the 400 meters, as the Stanford swimmer clocked 9:10.43, well under Wada's 9:31.21 that had lasted five years.

Ed Cazalet, representing Tamalpais Masters, set two American records and one world mark. Swimming in the 60-64 division, Cazalet, 60, clocked 5:49.43 to erase the global standard of 5:51.70 set by New Zealand's Barry Young in 1999.

In the 200 back, Cazalet's 2:44.38 was fast enough to take down Don Brown's domestic mark of 2:45.93 set nine years ago, but was still off Young's world record of 2:41.10. Cazalet narrowly missed breaking another world and US mark when he touched in 20:07.99 in the 1500. Both records belong to Graham Johnston, who swam 20:04+ in 1995.

–Phil Whitten

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