By Phil Whitten
SETH BRETSCHER knew that military commitments would keep him from attending the USMS Short Course Nationals in Santa Clara in May, where he had hoped to defend his title in the men's 40-44 100 yard breaststroke. So he decided to make the St. Patrick's Day Invitational at the Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta on March 19-20 his nationals.
Bretscher had set his record at Indy in 2000 at 59.10, breaking a mark that had stood for seven years. But he knew that Texas' David Guthrie was aging up and would give his brilliant yet vulnerable record a tough challenge.
As it turned out, he was right. Guthrie smoked a 58.97, erasing Bretscher's listed mark. But unbeknownst to Guthrie, Bretscher had gone even faster on Green Beer Day.
Splitting 27.45, Bretscher stroked an amazing 58.09 for the four laps of breaststroke, almost a full second faster than Guthrie.
"I would have loved to be at Nationals to swim
Dave head-to-head, but I had duties in the Middle East that prevented it. It's most unfortunate that Dave didn't know what the new mark was before his swim so he could have had his eyes set on that standard instead of a standard that was a full second slower."
Bretscher is a US Air Force major who flew 31 missions in the Gulf War and did three months in Bosnia. Recently his military job changed, limiting his training time to two or three sessions in the water a week.
In 2000, Bretscher burst on the Masters scene with his 59.10 clocking, which broke the 40-44 mark of 59.40 set by Chet Miltenberger in 1993. Miltenberger was the first 40 year-old to break a minute, and his record withstood challenges over the years from Rick Hofstetter in 1997 (59.83), Ron Schafer in 1998 (59.80), and Bob Jackson in 2000 (59.95).
Bretscher and Guthrie now own the two fastest 100 yard breaststroke swims all-time in their age group.