LONG BEACH, Calif, December 9. MASTERS swimmer Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, 40, created quite a stir this past weekend when she swam just one day of UC Irvine’s Speedo Cup, a predominantly collegiate invitational held at the Belmont Olympic Plaza Pool.
While swimmers and coaches around the pool deck speculated whether the All-American and former NCAA Division II record holder in the 200-yard back still had college eligibility, their fears were put to rest when the announcer introduced Pipes-Neilsen during the finals as a CSUB alumna who graduated in 1999.
Alumna or not, forty-year old Pipes-Neilsen still has the ability to compete successfully in this fast field of 18-22 year old women, and was the only competitor in the meet to swim both the 1650 and the 100 free in the championship finals. When the meet was over, Karlyn had exhibited both speed and endurance by establishing new USMS national records in the 100, 1,000 and 1650 free for the 40-44 age group.
Swimming unattached, Pipes-Neilsen swam a quick prelim time of 52.04 for the 100-yard free to qualify third in the finals. Her time shaved more than a half second off the USMS record of 52.72 she shared with 1972 Olympian Sandy-Nielsen-Bell.
In the finals, Pipes-Neilsen swam an amazing time of 17:15.20 for the 1650 free, slashing over 26 seconds off the previous best of 17:41.97 set by distance ace Suzanne Heim-Bowen in 2001. Pipes-Neilsen placed fifth overall in the event with a time that is just 1.21 seconds slower than her PR and 35-39 USMS record of 17:13.99 set five years ago. Karlyn averaged 1:03’s per 100 and her 500 splits were: 5:11.98, 5:16.47, and 5:17.44. The last 100 was a 59.31.
Not one to waste energy or a good swim, Pipes-Neilsen's 1,000 split was also a new USMS record by almost four seconds. Her time of 10:28.45 bettered Suzanne Heim-Bowen’s 10:32.07 done in 2001.
Pipes-Neilsen’s final race of the night was swum about 40-minutes after the 1650, when she swam a respectable 52.51 100 free, placing sixth. The time was slower than her prelim time of 52.04, but still faster than the previous USMS record for the 40-44 age group of 52.72.