Twelve Olympians Set For Short Course Masters Nationals

SANTA CLARA, California, April 8. THE U.S. Masters Swimming short course nationals always has plenty of star power, and next month’s edition at the George Haines International Swim Center will be one of the most star-studded yet, with a dozen Olympians among the registered 2,250 athletes.

Nathan Adrian and Anthony Ervin will be the headliners in the 50 and 100 freestyles. Adrian and Ervin train together not far away at UC-Berkeley, and will likely stop the meet in its tracks when they swim. The two will likely take down the current national age group records in the 50 and 100 freestyles, with Adrian making the marks in the 25-29 age group even more impressive and Ervin taking a torch to the 30-34 records. This will be Ervin’s second trip to Masters nationals, after first competing in 2007 on his road to pondering a comeback to elite swimming. Since the races at nationals are grouped by age group and not by time, Ervin and Adrian will not be able to race next to each other in either event.

Darian Townsend will race Adrian in the 100 free in the 25-29 age group. Townsend, an Olympic gold medalist in the 400 free relay for South Africa, has been setting Masters national and world records for about a year, and could add more to his list. In addition to the 100 free, he’s slated to swim the 100 and 200 IM, 200 free and 50 fly. Townsend already owns the national records in the 200 free (1:31.93) and 200 IM (1:41.88).

Multiple Olympic champion Matt Biondi is becoming more of a presence in Masters competition, and he’ll race four events in Santa Clara. Watch for his 100 IM, as the freestyle and butterfly specialist puts his backstroke and breaststroke capabilities on display. The 48-year-old will also swim the 50 free, 100 free and 50 fly.

Another Olympic legend on the roster is Misty Hyman, who is not scheduled to swim the 200 fly, the event in which she won Olympic gold in 2000. Instead, she’ll swim the 100 fly, 100 back, 100 IM and 50 back.

Three other Olympians living in the area include Sergey Mariniuk, who competed for the Unified Team and Moldova in three Olympiads; Dana Kirk, a 200 butterfly specialist at the 2004 Games; and Roque Santos, who famously beat Mike Barrowman in the 200 breast to earn a spot on the 1992 USA Olympic team.

Noriko Inada will be racing at Masters nationals a few weeks after competing for a spot on the Japanese team that will race at this summer’s Pan Pacific championships. The three-time Olympian owns several Masters world records in the backstroke events in the 30-34 and 35-39 age groups.

Josh Davis and Rick Colella round out the roster of Olympians slated for next month’s nationals. Davis won three golds in 1996 and two silvers in 2000, all on relays. Colella took home a bronze medal in the 200 breaststroke at the 1976 Games and has been a frequent Masters record breaker in the past few years. Davis’ last appearance at nationals was 2008, where he smashed several marks in the 35-39 age group.

Though he’s not (yet) an Olympian, Tom Shields will be another major presence on deck. Shields was, until two weeks ago, tied with Michael Phelps for the U.S. Open record in the 200-yard fly and owns some of the top times in history in butterfly and backstroke racing. Look for him in the 25-29 age group in the 50 and 100 fly, 100 back and 100 IM.

More than a dozen current Masters world and national record holders are also entered in the meet and will be gunning for new marks. Among them is Laura Val, who owns nearly every record available in the 60-64 age group; David Guthrie, who is already slashing breaststroke records this season; and Jack Groselle, who also has been breaking records in the early months of 2014.

A roundup of the top competitors at Masters nationals would not be complete without mentioning that USMS Executive Director Rob Butcher and President Nadine Day will also swim. The two are in line for some hardware in their respective events in Santa Clara.

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Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the host of several shows on SwimmingWorld.TV, including "The Morning Swim Show," which features interviews with people making headlines in aquatic sports. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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