SARASOTA, Florida, June 10. THE Venezuelan contingent at the Pan American Masters long course swimming championships will have plenty to celebrate today, as countrywoman Maria Rivera set a world record in the 50 backstroke.
Rivera, 40, raced to a 30.89 to become the oldest swimmer under the 31-second barrier in the event. Her time erased the world mark of 31.49 set by Canadian Cindy Mabee in 2009. Yesterday as a leadoff swimmer in the mixed 200 medley relay, Rivera posted a 31.08 to get break the record for the first time. According to the Venezuelan Swimming Federation's list of national records, today's swim marks the first time Rivera has broken 31 seconds in Masters competition. Her fastest national record before today was 31.22, which she swam in 2010 in the 35-39 age group. Rivera was a student-athlete at the University of Houston.
Though Rivera was the only major record breaker of the day, the competition was not without other highlights. Byron Shefchik, an NCAA finalist in the 200 breaststroke during his time at Brigham Young University, won the 200 breast in the 35-39 age group with a 2:29.95. The Pan Am Masters marks Shefchik's first long course Masters meet, though not his first Masters competition, as he swam numerous times in short course yards last year.
Edilson Silva, who competed for Brazil in FINA World Cup competitions in 2002 and attended high school in the United States, owns the world record in the men's 50 backstroke in the 40-44 age group with a 27.38. He posted a winning time of 28.03 today.