EL CAJON, Calif., June 19. WHAT do 90-year old Maxine Merlino, 65-year old Betsy Jordan and 40-year old Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen have in common?
If you guessed that these three ladies are top Masters swimmers who have recently moved into the bottom of a new age group, you would be partially right. But, what they have MOST in common is a true love of the sport of swimming, terrific attitudes and a quest to go where no woman in their respective age groups has gone before. Yep, folks, that mean's new FINA World and USMS records!
Swimming in a short course meters meet in El Cajon, California on June 16, the women established new world bests in a sub-standard facility (targets on the wall were virtually non-existent). However, the pool was officially certified to be 25-meters long and that meant it was time to get down to business.
Full of energy and enthusiasm, the forever-young Maxine Merlino got the ball rolling with a 800-meter free time of 22:18.84, taking a whopping six minutes off the old mark of 28:45.45 set by Anna Bauscher in 1993. Merlino's 400 split of 11:02.45 also bettered Baucher's posted world record for 90-94 age group, but was not quite as fast as the 10:45.34 she swam in a meet back in March. Merlino also broke a world record in the 100-meter IM, but was disqualified after she made an illegal turn while trying to remove her goggles from her mouth.
The legendary Betsy Jordan set a USMS record for the 65-69 age group in the 100-meter back with a speedy 1:26.96, slicing three-and-a-half seconds off the long standing record of 1:30.41 established by Doris Steadman in 1989.
Rounding out the record setting trio, Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen continued her quest to re-write the record book for the 40-44 age group by establishing four new FINA world records, bringing her to a total of 26 record-breaking performances since aging up in March.
Pipes-Neilsen stroked to a 57.71 in the 100-meter free bettering the world record of 58.81 set by Jill Hernandez in 2000. Two of Beth Baker's records tumbled as Pipes-Neilsen sped to a 1:06.31 in the 100-meter IM, taking over two and a half seconds off the previous best of 1:08.98. In the 100-meter fly, Pipes-Nielsen hit the wall in 1:04.49 knocking a second of Baker's standard of 1:05.49. Pipes-Neilsen's final record came in the 100-meter back when she replaced the world mark of 1:07.80 set by Vibeke Swanson in 2001 with a fine 1:05.43.