Four World Records Fall At Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic, Including Two Historic Relays

ORLANDO, Florida, October 13. FOUR men from Florida Aquatics Masters – average age, 90 years old – gathered at the Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic to become the first foursome to complete the 400 free relay and 800 free relay in the 360-399 age group.

Swimming in the short course meters meet over the weekend, the foursome of Rogers Holmes (93), William Adams (88), Edwin Graves (91) and John Corse (90) competed in four relays to the delight of those in attendance. Their swims in the 400 free relay (9:52.10) and 800 free relay (21:24.39) are the first official ones for their age group, which is determined by adding the ages of the four swimmers. Their combined age is 362 years, just making them eligible for FINA world records in the 360-399 age group.

The team also swam a 3:58.19 in the 200 medley relay and 4:30.72 in the 200 medley relay. Two teams from Japan have long held the world records in those events. The Juei Club swam a 3:19.42 in the 200 free relay in 2008, while the Nishinomiya Sumire club posted a 4:15.49 in the 200 medley relay in 2009.

Eric Christensen started the meet with an individual world record on Friday. He dominated the 400 IM with a 4:30.68, breaking Uwe Volk’s 4:31.92 world record from 2011. Christensen was an NCAA finalist in the 400 IM for the University of Florida in the 1990s, and had swum the 1500 freestyle shortly before his record-breaking swim, posting a 16:19.00.

David Quiggin just missed Graham Johnston’s record of 2:24.31 in the 200 free for the 70-74 age group, posting a 2:24.45. Determined to leave the meet with a world record, Quiggin signed up for a time trial and reached his goal with a 2:22.60. This is Quiggin’s third world record of 2014, having set the 100 free and 200 free long course marks at nationals in August.

Two other swimmers had multiple close calls with world records, but left the meet empty handed. Adam Ritter had the hardest luck of anyone, missing world records in four events in the 25-29 age group by a combined 1.69 seconds. The closest he got to a world record was the 100 freestyle, where the former NCAA 200 IM champion posted a 48.32. Darian Townsend, a former teammate of Ritter’s at the University of Arizona, owns the world record with a 48.29. Ritter just missed Townsend’s record of 53.47 in the 100 IM with a 53.53 and Townsend’s mark of 23.53 in the 50 fly with a 24.15.

Ritter rounded out his meet with a 2:00.10 in the 200 IM, missing Kristopher Gilchrist’s record of 1:59.70. He also put up a 27.59 in the 50 breast, falling shy of Eetu Karvonen’s record of 27.31. Ritter also swam a solid 1:46.63 in the 200 free.

Ritter had some company in the 50 fly. Elvis Burrows, a Commonwealth Games competitor for the Bahamas, was second with a 24.29, while former Kentucky All-American Eric McGinnis was third with a 24.30.

Erika Braun was on pace to break Susan Von Der Lippe’s world record of 57.55 in the 100 free, but a bad turn at the 75-meter mark put her off pace, and she finished with a 57.97. Braun also chased her own records in the 50 free and 50 fly, but was just a few tenths off in the 40-44 age group with times of 26.20 and 28.34, respectively.

Theresa Michalak, a German Olympian, set a U.S. Masters Swimming national record in the 18-24 age group. Because FINA does not recognize swims done by athletes under 25 years old for world record purposes, Michalak’s 4:42.11 in the 400 IM will only get national record status. Michalak broke Katherine Mills’ three-year-old record of 4:50.84 in the event and missed Kara Denby’s national mark of 1:01.74 in the 100 IM by the slimmest of margins, posting a 1:01.75.

Another national record fell in the mixed 400 medley relay for the 100-119 age group. Blu Frog’s Ariel Weech, Danielle Chance, Elvis Burrows and Brett Jones combined for a 4:12.70, beating the 4:16.58 by New England from 2002. They couldn’t beat the world record of 4:05.65 by the Dutch DWK team from this past January.

The meet’s namesake dove in for a couple of races as well. The three-time Olympian and “Voice of Swimming” posted a 25.44 in the 50 free and 11.44 in the 25 free.