LONG BEACH, California, December 3. THREE-TIME Olympian Matt Biondi had a stellar Masters swimming debut over the weekend at the Southern Pacific short course meters championships, breaking a world record in the 50 freestyle, while six others broke individual marks.
Biondi, the 1988 Olympic champion in the 50 freestyle, swam a 23.65 on Saturday to dip under Janne Virtanen's standard of 23.67 in the 45-49 age group. Biondi, 47 years old representing Conejo Valley Masters, made his official Masters debut earlier in the day with the 50 butterfly, nearly breaking Fritz Bedford's world record of 25.74 with a 25.80.
Laura Val, a regular on the annual Swimming World Magazine list of the world's top Masters swimmers, broke four of her world records in the 60-64 age group. The Tamalpais Masters standout lowered her 200 back world record of 2:42.21 with a 2:41.71 and reset her 100 fly mark of 1:12.67 with a 1:11.88. Dipping under the 1:05 barrier for the first time in the age group, she swam a 1:04.95 in the 100 free and broke her 50 back record of 33.94 with a 33.66.
Steve West, the oldest male to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials at 40 years old, now owns all three short course meters world records in the breaststroke events for the 40-44 age group with times of 28.55 in the 50, 1:01.97 in the 100 and 2:15.55 in the 200. West, representing Novaquatics Masters, broke the world records formerly held by Italy's Alberto Montini.
Robert Strand of Rose Bowl Masters also set three world records, resetting his own marks in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes with times of 1:15.84 and 2:49.05, respectively. Strand completed his meet with a 1:10.26 in the 100 individual medley, breaking Richard Abrahams' mark of 1:10.42.
Two swimmers each walked away with two individual world records. Jim McConica, a multi-world record breaker representing Ventura County Masters, started with a 4:35.59 in the 400 free that lowered his old record of 4:37.74, then swam a 9:28.32 in the 800 free that wiped out his former record of 9:31.23. Hugh Wilder of Santa Rosa Masters crushed two of Richard Burns' world records in the sprint backstrokes in the 65-69 age group, first swimming a 1:07.69 in the 100 back to lower the world mark by nearly three seconds, then sprinted to a 30.34 in the 50 back, erasing the 31.64 set by Burns.
Glenn Counts of Las Vegas Masters also got into the action with his first Masters world record. He swam a 56.36 in the 100 IM, barely dipping under Corrado Sorrentino's mark of 56.37 in the 35-39 age group.
Three teams broke relay world records at the meet. The Novaquatics Masters foursome of Cynthia Lewis, Evan Kraus, Amy Collins and Dickie Fernandez swam an 8:25.57 in the mixed 800 free relay. They took down the 8:27.11 swum by Missouri Valley Masters in the 120-159 age group. Hubie Kerns, Glenn Gruber, Jim McConica and Michael Blatt of Ventura teamed up for a 9:04.01 in the men's 800 free relay, smashing their own world record by five seconds. San Diego Swim Masters' men's relay team of Donal Baker, Bob Best, Eric Hubach and Ken Kimball swam a 6:34.69 in the 400 free relay, obliterating the 320-359 age group world record of 7:11.62 set by Oregon Masters.