By Mel Dyck
FLAGSTAFF, June 16. ALTITUDE? Who cares about altitude?
Not Ron Johnson, former USMS "Coach of the Year," who coaches and swims for the Sun Devil Masters swim team in Tempe, Arizona.
Johnson aged up into the 70-74 age group this year. Today he bettered four national USMS records and three short course meters world marks at the Wall Aquatic Center pool located in Flagstaff, at an altitude of 6910 feet.
While the other 59 swimmers were struggling to get their breath, Johnson hammered the 100m IM world record, turning in a spectacular 1:15.92, three and a half seconds faster than the 1:19.43 record set by Chuck Baldwin late last year. This swim is just 0.31 seconds slower than the record still held by Johnson in the 65-69 age group.
Minutes later, in the 50 fly, he swam a 32.57, about 2 seconds faster than the previous world mark of 34.60, while in the 50 free he splashed to a 29.19, compared to the old world record of 29.77, both also set by Baldwin.
Only in the 50 breaststroke did Johnson miss the world mark of 38.60, pulling out a time of 39.07 which still beats the old national record of 39.74 established by Joseph Kurtzman.
Johnson and the other athletes from Arizona and Nevada were swimming at the VO2 Min meet run by Arizona Mountain Masters. Proceeds from this year's meet were donated to Flagstaff High School to help establish a men's and women's swim program at the high school. More than $1000 was raised in this second annual high altitude effort.