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Euro Masters Champs Day 4: Britain's Jane Asher Sets Two World Marks -- July 7, 2001

By Phillip Whitten

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain, July 6. GREAT Britain's Jane Asher set two world Masters records today, the fourth day of the European Masters Swimming Championships at Palma de Mallorca, Spain. In all, six world records were set this day, all by women.

Asher, 70, who swims for the Kings Cormorants Swim Club, clocked 6:15.50 to destroy the world and European records in the 70-74 age group.

The old world mark was set in 1996 by the USA's Clara Walker, a Hall of Famer, at 6:33.15. The old European record was 7:16.02 by Danish Olympian Margarethe Bendsten last year. Finishing second in the race and also under the old European mark, as she has so often this week, was Sweden's Britt Grilli at 7:09.81.

When Asher climbed out of the pool, she owned the Euro mark in the 400 in three age groups: 70-74 (6:15.50), 65-69 (6:09.73) and 60-64 (6:11.09). However her 60-64 standard was to last only a few minutes longer.

Never mind. Two events later, Asher demonstrated her versatility by stroking the 50 meter fly in 40.64, breaking the global standard held by another American legend, Olympian Gail Roper. Roper's old mark was 41.26 set only last year.

Germany's Christel Schulz showed that, unlike Sergeant Schulz who "knew nothing," she knows a lot about swimming the 100 free. Schulz raced the two laps free in 1:12.66 breaking her own European record for women 60-64 of 1:14.04 set last year as well as the world record of 1:12.87 by Japan's Yoshiko Osaki.

Schulz needed all that speed as she barely outlasted a fast-closing Claire O'Dwyer of Ireland, who touched in 1:13.12. Schulz split 34.59 - 38.07 to O'Dwyer's 35.81 - 37.31.

O'Dwyer waited only one event to bounce back from her close defeat at Schulz's hands. The Irish speedster raced to a 36.59 clocking in the women's 60-64 50 meter butterfly to erase Japan's Yoshiko Osaki's name from the record book in the second straight event. Osaki's global mark of 36.87 was set in 1999.

A third world mark fell in the women's 50 meter fly. Once again, an American legend was the victim. In the 45-49 age group, Germany's Angela Zingler clocked 30.30, wiping out one of the longest-standing records on the books: Ardeth Mueller's 30.74 from 1987.

Britain's Judy Wilson didn't break a world mark but her 33.25 effort in the 50 fly was the second fastest ever by a woman 55-59, coming within one-hundredth of a second of the world mark Wilson set last year.

The final world record of the day fell when Britain's Anne Cork uncorked an awesome 200 meter backstroke in winning the 50-54 age group. Cork's time of 2:50.87 let her slip by the world mark of 2:51.11 set by Japan's Satoko Takeuji nine yeaars ago. It also shattered countrywoman's Sandra O'Neil's Euro mark of 2:57.59 from 1998.

European Records: 400 Free
Belgium's Virginia Keteleer lowered her own European record for women 75-79 from 7:50.59, swum last year, to 7:41.04.

Ireland's Claire O'Dwyer completed a fabulous day of competition. In addition to her 60-64 world record in the 50 fly and second place - but European record-breaking - finish in the 100 free, she topped it all off by winning the 400 free in a Euro record 6:02.29 to erase Jane Asher's time (6:11.09 from 1992) from the record book.

O'Dwyer swam a beautifully calculated race. Second at the halfway mark, she took over at 225 meters and swam away from a strong field. She wound up negatively-splitting her race, going 3:03.19 - 2:59.10.

In the women's 45-49 age group, Italy's Cristina Tarantino, 47, clocked 4:59.54, making her the first European woman over 45 under five minutes. In the process she took more than 10 seconds off Britain's Jayne Ball's continental mark of 5:09.73. Holland's Atie Pijtak-Radersma was second in 5:02.90, also well under Ball's old mark, while Ball was third in 5:16.74.

Finally, Germany's Barbara Gellrich notched a 40-44 Euro record, clocking 4:52.73 to break countrywoman's Tanja Engels' old standard of 4:59.38. Engels tried valiantly to defend her mark, clocking 4:58.18, but she gave up more than four seconds to gellrich in the first 100 meters and was never able to bounce back.


European Records: 200 Back
In addition to Cork's world/European record in the women's 50-54 age group, three other Euro marks fell in the 200 meter backstroke.

France's Maria Balla, 57, lowered her own continental standard for women 55-59 under three minutes. Her time of 2:57.89 wiped out her old mark of 3:03.63 set last year. The worldd record is 2:56.13 by Japan's Satoko Takeuji.

Three women battled for the gold with Germany's Brigitte Merten turning first at 100 meters in 1:26.17 followed closely by Ball (1:26.44) and Sweden's Margit Ohlsson (1:26.54). After the turn, Ball tried to assert command and, while she was able to shake the faltering Merten, Ohlsson just would not give up.

Balla finally pulled away from her Swedish rival in the final 25 meters a Ohlsson touched second in 2:59.71 and Merten finished in 3:03.88.

The only men's records of the day came in the 200 meter backstroke.

Hungary's Jozsef Csikany, who won the 50 yesterday in European record time, repeated that performance today in the 200 meters. Csikany's 2:39.90 better his own continental standard of 2:41.63 set at this meet two years ago.

In the 40-44 age group, Poland's Dariusz Wolny clocked 2:17.58 to lower his own continental standard of 2:18.23 set last year. Wolny also owns the European record in the 35-39 age group at 2:17.37.