By Phil Whitten
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., December 7. THE doctor was in today and, baby, was he operating!!!
The amazing Dr. Ron Karnaugh, 36, representing Team Triton, stroked to four world Masters records in the 35-39 age group in his five splashes today at the Colonies Zone Short Course Meters Championships, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Even more impressive, three of those four world marks are the fastest ever swum in Masters competition in any age group — faster than the records in the 25-29 and 30-34 divisions. That'll give the young bucks something to shoot at!
Karnaugh began the day by swimming his weakest stroke — the backstroke — at his best distance — 200 meters. The result was an astonishing 2:00.34.
"I thought I was on record pace," Karnaugh said, "but I was thinking a 2:07, maybe 2:06." After splitting 59.1 at the 100, he picked up the pace but still had no idea he would end up with a lifetime best. "If I'd had any idea I was swimming that fast I'm sure I could have gotten under two minujtes," he said.
No matter. The old record was 2:07.12 by Jerry Frentsos set in 2000. The 30-34 mark is 2:00.43 by 1992 Olympic champion, Martin Zubero. Previously that was the fastest Masters swim ever.
Karnaugh came back to take the 200m IM in 2:03.29, four seconds faster than Jim Harvey's 35-39 world mark (2:07.21) set last year. Dr. Ron's 2:03 is now the fastest-ever 200 medley swum in a Masters meet.
The 100 breast was next up, with the 35-39 record of 1:02.79 set in 2000 by Wally Dicks arguably one of the toughest on the books. And swimming in the lane next to Karnaugh was none other than Big Wally, himself, now a doddering 39 and looking forward to aging-up. The old man gave it a valiant try, clocking a 1:04+, but Dr. Ron came thundering home in 1:02.57 — again, the fastest-ever Masters swim.
In the 200m free, Karnaugh cranked out a 1:52.90, good enough to erase the Netherlands' Edwin van Norden's 35-39 global standard of 1:53.66 set last year.
In his final event of the day, Dr. Ron clocked 26.87 for the 50m backstroke, just 3-hundredths slower than Clay Britt's record that has stood since 1996. A tired Karnaugh said he would give it another try tomorrow. The first event is the 200 medley relay, and the good doctor will be swimming the leadoff leg for his team.