MASTERS SWIMMER SWIMS IN FOUR DECADES OF OLYMPIC TRIALS -- April 21, 2000
By Phillip Whitten
The achievements of Masters swimmers in their mid-thirties, and even early forties, are impressive, indeed. This year an unprecedented number of
thirtysomething Masters will be participating at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. But one Swedish Masters swimmer has compiled a record equaled only by America's Sandy Neilson-Bell, who won three gold medals as a 16-year-old in Munich in 1972. Sandy, a grandmother, is hoping to make the U.S. Trials in the 50 free this year.
Sweden's Glen Christiansen, 43, has already made his nation's 2000 Olympic Trials--a feat he has achieved every quadrennium beginning in 1972.
In 1976 and 1980 he made the team and swam at the Olympics.
It was in Moscow, in 1980, that Christiansen lost his chance for Olympic gold. With the absence of the U.S. team that year, Sweden was heavily favored to win the men's 400 meter medley relay. The Swedes were so deep that they swam a "B" team in the prelims, with Peter Berggren replacing Christiansen for the breaststroke leg. Unfortunately, Berggren jumped and
the Swedes were disqualified.
In 1984, Christiansen bypassed the Trials because he was coaching Ann Lindner, his future wife, to four berths on the Olympic team. In 1996, he coached several Swedish and German swimmers to spots on their respective Olympic teams, with two winning Olympic medals.
Now Christiansen, who has set Masters world records in the 50 and 100 meter breaststroke, is back, training for the Swedish Trials and the Masters World Championships in Munich. He plans to swim in Munich--unless, that is, he makes the Olympic team.