By Phillip Whitten
LONG BEACH, December 18. NO fewer than 26 Masters world records were swept away last weekend at the annual Holiday Classic (Short Course Meters) Masters Meet at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach, California, site of the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials. Nine swimmers accounted for the record-breaking.
The record book was virtually written in the men’s 90-94 and the women’s 40-44 age groups. In each case, two swimmers were responsible for the carnage.
The record-breaking was most dramatic among the nonagenarians, where Walt Pfeiffer set six new Masters marks and his Coast Masters teammate, Woody Bowersock, accounted for four. The two men neatly divided the weekend’s events among them, Bowersock setting his sights on the freestyle records and Pfeiffer targeting the fly and IM. (Bowersock also swam backstroke and Pfeiffer did the breaststroke but, alas, both were unable to produce records in those events.)
Pfeiffer’s records were truly mind-boggling. In the 50m fly he clocked 1:00.52, almost eight seconds faster than the old mark by Germany’s Richard Reinstadtler in 2003. Canada’s Eugene Lehman was Pfeiffer’s victim in the 100 and 200 fly. He clocked 2:31.47 for 100 meters, almost a full minute-and-a-half under Lehman’s 4:00.77 from earlier this year. In the 200, his performance was even more prodigious as he hacked over 200 seconds from Lehman’s 9:14.77 with a 5:49.11, becoming the first 90 year-old to crack 9 minutes, 8 minutes, 7 minutes and 6 minutes – all in the same race.
Then he tackled the medley events, again victimizing the same two former record-holders. In the 100 meter IM, Pfeiffer barely beat Reinstadtler’s 2:16.67 with his 2:14.23. But Walt took out his berserker’s axe in the 200 IM as he clocked 5:13.24 – a cool 152 seconds (2:32) quicker than Lehman’s 7:45.59 .
It was in the 400 IM, however, that Pfeiffer truly made history as he swam 11:20.46, thereby becoming the first man over 90 ever to complete the event. And he wasn’t just cruising. Remember that B.W. (Before Walt) the fastest 200 IM by a 90 year-old had been 7:45+. If that gentleman had done two 200s in a row, both in his best time, he would have clocked 15:31. Walt was over four minutes faster than that hypothetical swim!
Then there was Woody Bowersock, who laid waste to the 50, 100, 200 and 800 free. (Yes, he swam the 400 too, but he missed breaking Gus Langner’s mark.) Woody is best known as a sprinter, but he also showed in Long Beach that he can go the distance. In the 50, his 41.07 lopped a whopping 2.82 seconds from the 43.89 put up in 2002 by Japan’s Kazunaga Akutsu. Another Japanese, Masahisa Kaneko, was the victim in the 100 free, as his 1:47.51 from ’02 was destroyed by Woody’s 1:39.26.
Showing that he is a non-discriminatory record-breaker, Woody chose as final two victims swimmers from Brazil and Canada. In the 200 free, the Wood Man broke four minutes with his 3:59.28. A Brazilian, Gustav Figueredo, owned the old record at 4:20.43.
Woody’s 800 free, however, was his piece de resistance. Canada’s Eugene Lehman set the former record earlier this year at 25:46.81. Woody Bowersock knocked more than six minutes (!!) off that time with his 19:31.83!
Then there was Karlyn. Forty-one year-old Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, swimming in her final meet in San Diego before moving to Hawaii, lowered her own Masters world records in the 40-44 age group from last year in no fewer than seven events. Three of the times were lifetime bests.
In the 100 free she clocked 57.60 (old mark, 57.71); in the 200 free she went 2:05.26 (old record 2:06.20); in the 400 free she swam 4:21.75 (old mark 4:23.82).
Karlyn turned in a 2:19.09 for the 200 back, well under her standard of 2:20.54. In the 100 fly she touched in 1:03.31, destroying last year’s mark of 1:04.49.
Two medley marks fell as well. Karlyn clocked 1:05.56 for the 100 meters and 2:20.55 for the 200, erasing her records from 2002 of 1:06.31 and 2:21.92.
Pipes-Neilsen, however, was not the only record-breaker in the 40-44 age group. San Diego Swim Masters’ Caroline Krattli clocked 33.67 for the 50 meter breaststroke, carving 4-hundredths off the record she set a year ago. Then, in the 100 breast, she touched in 1:12.08 – only 9-hundredths off her 35-39 WR and well under her 1:13.26 standard in the 40-44 division. Krattli will grace the cover of the January/February 2004 issue of SWIM Magazine.
Other Men’s Records
Erik Hochstein, SCAQ, a member of Germany’s 1988 Olympic team and a 2004 Olympic hopeful eased half a second off Italian Paolo Silvestri’s record of 3:58.50 in the 400 meter freestyle for men 35-39. Hochstein, 35, touched in 3:57.98.
Hochstein set a second world record when he sped to a 1:51.31 clocking in the 200m free, well under the 1:52.90 established by Ron Karnaugh last year.
Forty-six year-old Paul Carter, Unattached, who hopes to become the oldest qualifier at the U.S. Olympic Trials in ’04, swam to two impressive global marks for men 45-49. In the 50 fly he chopped almost a full second off Japan’s Brent Barnes’ 26.82 from earlier this year with his 25.84.
In the 100 fly, James Ballard had just missed breaking the one-minute barrier earlier in 2003 with his oh-so-close 1:00.01. Carter asked iconoclastically: “Barrier? What barrier? I don’t see no stinkin’ barrier,” as he powered home in 57.17 seconds.
In the 60-64 age group, Peter Anderson, SDSM and David Gildea, Stanford Masters, traded breaststroke records, going head-to-head in the 100 and 200 meter distances. In the 100, it was Indiana University grad Anderson who touched home first in 1:16.56, just ahead of Gildea’s 1:16.89. Both men crushed the old mark of 1:17.85 by Canada’s Jack Kelso, set four-and-a-half years ago.
(A personal observation here: I remember Dave Gildea from 1960, when we both were in the 15-16 age group. As I recall, Dave’s best 100m breast was about 1:20 or so – just a tad slower than what the top 15-16 guys were swimming back then. It’s a measure of our sport – not to mention Dave’s tenacity — to note that today, at the age of 60, he is swimming faster than he did at 16. A wonderful achievement!)
Anderson is best at the sprint distances (he set a USMS mark in the 50), but in the 200 breast it was Gildea who took the race out hard, splitting 1:19.84 at the 100 and daring Anderson to catch him. He almost did. Gildea split what must have been a very painful 1:19.84 – 1:33.37. That’s 14 seconds difference. You spell that “A-G-O-N-Y!” But his big early lead held up – just barely — as both men, again, destroyed a four year-old work mark, the 2:56.18 set by Australia’s Mike Moloney. Gildea touched in 2:53.21, with Anderson right behind in 2:53.65.
Lovely Rita, Meter Master
Great West’s Rita Simonton accounted for the final two world marks swum in Long Beach. In both cases the former marks were set by Simonton shortly after she aged-up into the 85-89 division.
In the 200 free, Simonton, 86, became the first woman in her age group to dip under four minutes with her 3:57.48. The time swept way her 4:06.61 from earlier this year. In the 800 free, she again bettered her own WR, as her 8:17.82 tore up her old standard of 8:21.36.