Clark Burckle Leads World Record Assault at U.S. Masters Nationals

MISSION VIEJO, California, August 8. AFTER a tragic beginning to the U.S. Masters Swimming long course national championships in which Louis Slater passed away after being pulled from the pool during the 1500 freestyle Wednesday, the meet continued in his memory and world records were set, highlighting the resilience of the Masters swimming community.

On Wednesday, 91-year-old Willard Lamb was the only world record setter of the day, posting a 31:28.76 in the mile, breaking Jurgen Schmidt’s two-month-old world record of 36:22.20 by five minutes. Before Schmidt’s swim, the world record had stood since 1993 to Gus Langner with a 36:47.02.

Competition heated up with a flourish earlier today, as Olympians and Masters legends set 12 world records in southern California. Clark Burckle, who competed in the final of the 200 breaststroke at the 2012 Olympics, swam a 1:02.18 in the 100 breast today to break the mark of 1:02.65 set by Great Britain’s Christopher Jones in 2007 in the 25-29 age group. Burckle, 25, missed out on BJ Johnson’s national record of 1:01.41, set at last year’s Olympic Trials. Burckle is on his way to Stanford University to begin postgraduate studies there after three years of training in Tucson, Ariz., with the elite group there.

(Registered Masters swimmers can only break Masters world records at sanctioned Masters meets, but U.S. Masters Swimming recognizes swims done in any sanctioned meet, be it Olympic Trials or USA Swimming nationals, for national records. Thus, some USMS records are faster than the world records.)

David Guthrie, who has been on a record-breaking tear in the 50-54 age group in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, kicked off his nationals with a blazing 1:07.16 in the 100 breast. The time broke his own world mark of 1:07.48 that he swam last month. Olympian Rick Colella also has had a great year, winning six events at the short course nationals in May, and continued his success with a world record in the 60-64 age group’s 100 breast with a 1:13.38, breaking Tim Shead’s mark of 1:14.14 from last year.

Katie Glenn and Cynthia Lewis did battle in the women’s 100 breast world record in the 35-39 age group, with Glenn getting the win and the record with a 1:12.34 to Lewis’ 1:12.75. Both swims eclipsed Swimming World Magazine Female World Masters Swimmer of the Year Hitomi Matsuda’s 1:12.77 from last year, but was not faster than the national record of 1:12.30 that Lewis posted last year outside of a sanctioned Masters competition.

Colella was back in the water in the next men’s event, the 200 IM, and went 2-for-2 in breaking Tim Shead’s world records. His time of 2:23.10 broke Shead’s mark of 2:30.05 from last summer.

The record-breaking picked up again in the women’s 100 backstroke, where three notable swimmers etched their names once more in the record book. Rita Simonton, 95, posted a 2:42.67 in the 95-99 age group, beating out the world record of 2:55.56 set by Japan’s Mieko Nagaoka in 2010. Laura Val, a regular record breaker throughout her long and illustrious Masters swimming career continued her success with a 1:15.92 in the 60-64 age group, taking down her own mark of 1:16.08 from 2012. Noriko Inaka, a three-time Olympian for Japan who just missed out for Olympic team selection in 2012, won the 100 back in the 35-39 age group with a 1:03.04. The 35-year-old broke Sheri Hart’s two-year-old record of 1:04.99 and gave Inada two long course backstroke records, as she also owns the 30-34 world record with a 1:01.78.

A little more than 24 hours after breaking the world record in the 1500 free, Lamb was back in the 200 free, swimming a 3:41.77. His time obliterated Tokushi Komeda’s world record of 3:54.89 that had stood since 2004, and demolished Jurgen Schmidt’s USMS record of 4:02.49.

The final two world records of the day came in the women’s 200 free, and Simonton set her second mark of the day in the 95-99 age group with a 5:04.08. Simonton took 86 seconds off Nagaoka’s official world record of 6:30.34 and beat her month-old national record of 5:17.71 that had not yet been approved by FINA as a world record. Jill Hernandez wrapped up the world record bonanza with a 2:13.18 in the 200 free, breaking Suzanne Heim-Bowne’s mark of 2:15.00 from 2008.