OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., December 21. IT may be late in the year and time for heavy training, but don't tell that to the swimmers from Austin's Circle C team.
Olympic/World Champoionship veterans and national collegiate champions, including CC's Colleen Lanne, Neil Walker and Nate Dusing — plus Dave Denniston (NOVA) and up-and-comer Caroline Bruce (Wichita Swim Club) — continued to shine on Day 3 of the Kerr-McGee Pro-Am Elite Invitational here this evening.
Also, that Fountain of Youth himself, 36-year-old Dr. Ron Karnaugh, who still believes in the old Satchel Paige maxim that age is "simply a matter of mind over matter — if you don't mind it don't matter" — added another pair of Masters' records to his collection.
For this late in the year the times were truly outstanding and, in several instances, were faster than the fastest NCAA Division 1 clocking.
* Walker won the 100 back in 45.89, No. 1 nationally and history's 11th-fastest. His American/ NCAA record 44.92 leads the way and he has the race's three fastest times, all from the 1997 NCAAs in Minneapolis: 44.92 leading off Texas' medley relay in the prelims, 45.07 leading off at night and 45.25 to win the race itself the following day. His fastest split was a 21.45 from the record and that's No. 1 all-time too for the 50 back.
* Walker's 45.89 also broke his own meet record of 46.69 from three years ago.
* The Longhorn Olympian came back a few events later to win the 50 free in a nation-leading 19.21, just off the 19.11 meet record by NOVA's Jason Lezak from last year. Lezak was action in last weekend's SoCal Swimming Invitational at Belmont Plaza, leading off his club's 400 free relay in 43.25, but so far has opted not to compete here.
Walker's 50 free pr is 19.08, also from the '97 NCAAs, which ranks him fifth on the all-time performances' list, fourth performer. He now has three wins here, having splashed to the 100 fly Friday night in 46.27, and all are fastest nationally.
(Hmmmm….wonder if Texas coach Eddie Reese could use another good sprinter-backstroker this season in his quest for a "fourpeat," i.e., a fourth-consecutive NCAA Championship. The meet IS at Austin in late March…and presumably Walker's not too busy that weekend so…)
* Former Auburn All-America Denniston raced to a very fast 200 breast victory with his nation-leading 1:54.34. That time is just off his pr, Tiger and Southeastern Conference-record 1:53.48 from last year's NCAAs.
He finished runner-up there to Texas' Brendan Hansen's then American/NCAA record 1:53.11, The Longhorn star won this year in a record-breaking 1:52.88.
(In the Hansen race, Denniston was out in a blazing 53.67 for his initial 100, fastest 100 ever in a 200 race. Hansen split 53.84.)
Denniston's winning time here is ninth-fastest all-time (performances). His swim from NCAAs last season ranks him fifth and fourth on the all-time performances-performers' list and he won the 100 breast Friday night in 52.60 — also No. 1 nationally.
* World Championship sprint finalist Tammie Stone, a former Texas All-America, went 22.24 to win the 50 — again No. 1 nationally — with teammate Lanne a close second (22.30).
Stone's swim bests the previous national No. 1 of 22.34 by Georgia's Maritza Correia from the Bulldog Invitational in Athens two weeks ago, and of course Lanne is now No. 2. Their prs are 21.84 and 21.99, respectively, third and seventh on the all-time performers' rankings. Stone's pr is also third-fastest performance.
(However, Stone's time was shy of the meet record, a 21.86 by former Stanford Olympian Jenny Thompson in '98. That swim is JT's pr and fourth-fastest all-time (performers-perforamnces).
* Lanne then surprised the field by winning the 500 free in what is likely her pr, 4:50.89. Her win is some five seconds off the meet record of 4:45.90, swum five years ago by the same woman who is the current American/NCAA record-holder in the 100-200 yard freestyles, backstrokes and butterflys plus the world record-holder in the 100 meter backstroke — and this year's Swimming World World Swimmer of the Year.
Can't think of what her name is offhand but she reportedly attends some college in the Bay Area.
* Bruce, the Wichita SC prodigy who won the 100 breast and the 400 IM Friday night, added another pair of golds with wins and prs in the 200 IM (2:00.58) and 200 breast (2:11.14). Alexis Spann, 100 breast runner-up, was also second (2:13.90). Her pr is a 2:12.83 from earlier this year.
Bruce hadn't been under 2:02.1 in the IM and her old pr in the breaststroke was a 2:12.56 from last year here. Plus tonight she went her career-bests in the finals, unlike Friday when she was a tad faster in the prelims in both her races.
She's got a ways to go, however, before she can equal the pool records in these races. The IM belongs to Thompson (1:58.62 from the '98 K-M Elite meet, where she set an American record in the 100 fly); and 2:08.00 in the 200 breast by former Nebraska Cornhusker Penny Heyns.
When Heyns did her swim — in the finals of the final Big 8 Championship ever six years ago (the conference has now morphed into the Big 12) — it was a U.S. Open/ NCAA record. The South African world record-holder then won NCAAs a month later and splashed to golds in the 100-200 breast races at that summer's Olympics in Atlanta.
The 15-16 NAG record is 2:09.06 by former Stanford NCAA champ Mary Ellen Blanchard from the '89 U.S. Nationals in Chapel Hill. Blanchard, incidentally, is granddaughter of former Army football All-America Glenn ("Doc") Blanchard, a Heisman Trophy winner.
* Dusing, ex-Texas American/NCAA record-holder in the 200 IM (1:42.85 from last year's collegiate championships in College Station), and only man ever under 1:43.0, won his second gold with a 1:46.30 medley clocking. Former Longhorn teammate Tommy Hannan made him work for the win with his second-place 1:46.37.
The finish replicated last season's NCAA final where Dusing set the record and Hannan came in No. 2 (pr 1:43.87). Hannan's fifth on the all-time performances' list, fourth-performer.
Dusing went a pr and nation-leading 1:33.76 to win the 200 free last night and, to maintain his peak performance, also finished second to Circle C teammate Walker in the 100 back (46.71). His pr is 45.89 leading off Texas' medley relay at NCAAs last season — fifth performer all-time (12th-performance).
* Third in the IM was Karnaugh (1:48.74). Swimming's most active medicineman also took third in the 200 breast (1:59.74).
How good are those times? Only fastest-ever for a 36-year-old and fastest for any age-group among Masters swimmers. No other Masters swimmer has ever been under 2:00.0 for the 200 breast nor 1:50.0 for the 200 IM.
Karnaugh's IM pr is a 1:45.77 from the '89 NCAAs while he was at Cal; and his 200 breast pr is 1:58.24 from this meet four years ago when he was competing for the national team.
Nineteen eighty-nine? Heck, Dusing was just an obscure 11-12 age grouper back then.
Other winners included 500 free champ Chad Carvin (4:17.64) who now has titles in the 1000 free/400 IM too; and 16-year-old Hayley McGregory, who went a pr 54.30 to win the 100 back; and Circle C's women's and men's 400 medley relays, which both won in meet-record times (3:42.62/3:26.02).
McGregory's old pr was a 54.55 from last spring's Speedo Invitational in San Antonio and she ranked fourth nationally among high-school girls in the 100 backstroke this past season. (No. 1 was NOVA Coach Dave Salo's own Diana MacManus, U.S. Nationals champ at Minneapolis in March, who won CIF in 54.42 as a soiphomore for Irvine High. She also led off the Vaqueros' national record-setting 200 medley relay.)
McGregory's major local "tormentor," Plano's Texas state champ Lauren Gettel, won't be around at next February's championship to steal her thunder as she's now a freshman at Georgia. The No. 2 prepster from last season, Anaheim Canyon's Erin Volcan (54.44 in the same race as MacManus) is now a rookie at Auburn.
While they didn't win, there were some other fine performances swum tonight, including:
* Former Nebraska/Latvian Olympian Valeriy Kalmikovs, who took second in the 200 breast in 1:59.61. His pr is 1:57.89 from the Big 12s two seasons ago.
* FAST's Dana Vollmer's pr 22.67 for third in the 50 free and former UCLA Bruin Meredith Bryarly's pr 22.77 for fourth. She's now training with NOVA. Vollmer is 13-14 NAG record-holder in the 100 fly (53.53) from last March's American Short Course Championships.
* Former Northwestern All-America and Swiss Olympian Doiminique Diezi's 22.92/54.78 50 free/ 100 back double, taking fifth in the former and runner-up in the latter. Her dorsal clocking's a pr.
* Rockfoed's Caroline Rodriguez's pr 55.77 in the prelims of the 100 back.
* Alexis' brother Austin, 17, taking 18th in the 200 breast (2:14.62). Their father, Dr. Scott Spann, still holds U.S. Swimming's 10-under-100 breast record from a few years ago — the oldest age-group record on the books. (We won't mention the year but the only man to resign the presidency had just taken office that January!)
* NOVA's Kicker Vencil's 50 free pr (19.81, second); and Duke's 15-year-old Justine Schluntz, runner-up in the 500 free (4:51.64) which goes along with her runner-up to Bruce in the 400 IM.
— Bill Bell