By Phillip Whitten
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., May 19. FORTY year-old Jeff Erwin, swimming for Sawtooth Masters (SAWS) may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but his stroke remains that of a swimmer half his age.
On this, the first day of the USMS National Short Course Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Erwin pulled off a rare feat. Swimming both the 1000-yard freestyle and the 1650 free, with only the women’s 1000 between his two events, Erwin not only won both races, but he set national records in the men’s 40-44 age group in both as well.
The man got game!
Erwin, 40, began his day by stroking to a 9:39.98 clocking in the 1000 to slice six seconds off Brett Phillips’ standard of 9:45.97, set in 2001. Even-splitting his race, with a 4:49.74 for his first 500 and 4:50.24 for the back half, Erwin fought off a determined challenge by Bobby Patten, DAM, who finished in 9:51.73.
Not long afterward, Erwin broke Patten’s national record in the 1650 with a 16:10.93 effort, three seconds under the mark of 16:13.92 set by the former SMU ace last year.
In the 45-49 age group, Colorado’s Kirk Anderson, 45, hacked 10 seconds off Brett Phillips’ 2003 standard of 10:04.49 in the 1650, touching in 9:54.65. Mark Drennan was second in 10:08.96, not far off Phillips’ former mark.
Jim Clemmons (55-59) notched the only other men’s record set this day. The Manatee Aquatic Masters distance ace sped to an outstanding 17:40.12 to lop more than 18 seconds off Tod Spieker’s 17:58.73 set last year.
There were no records set in the women’s 1000 free and, as we posted this story, results for the women’s 1650 were still not finalized.
The day’s most exciting race came in the 1650 free for men 75-79. In that race, Arizona Masters teammates Dan Gruender and Lou Silverstein duked it out for 66 laps, with Gruender, a former USMS president, getting his hand on the wall first in 31:23.60, just 35-hundredths ahead of Silverstein.
Gruender’s victory made him half of the only husband-wife team to take double gold today. Edie Gruender took the women’s 1000 in 17:55.47.