It’s Liu on Day Two of Masters Nationals; Former Chinese Star Clocks 1:48 for 200 yard Free

By Phillip Whitten

SANTA CLARA, Calif. May 18. LIU LIMIN, a member of the Chinese 400m medley relay team that set a world record at the World Championships in Rome in 1994 — a time that lasted until the 2000 Sydney Olympics — posted a near-world-class time in winning the women's 200 yard freestyle today, the second day of competition at the USMS Short Course National Championships in Santa Clara.

Liu, 25, who attended the University of Nevada, where she won several NCAA titles, is now swimming for Sierra Nevada Masters. And in her first national Masters meet she made her presence known, blasting to a 1:48.80 to win the 200 yard freestyle in the 25-29 division. It was the first sub-1:50 by a female Masters swimmer.

Liu's time broke the 25-29 standard of 1:51.35, set by Sara Shand eight years ago. Former age-group phenom, Grace Cornelius, 28, was second today in 1:54.07.

Liu's swim may have been the most outstanding swim today, but there were highlights galore. Here's an event-by-event run-down.

Only one national record fell in this event. Clay Britt, 40, swimming for the Ancient Mariners, stroked 52.19 seconds, to erase Craig Schwartz's 52.58 mark for men 40-44 from 1996. Fritz Lehman was second today in 53.83, fourth fastest all-time.

In the 30-34 age group, Andrew Bohlman went 51.74, equalling the third fastest swim ever in that age group. In the 55-59 division, Tim Birnie edged Rich Burns, 1:00.31 to 1:00.90. Birnie's time makes him third fastest ever in the age group behind Robert Smith (59.61) and Burns (59.89).

Ray Taft won the 80-84 race in 1:26.90. Only he has swum faster (1:24.23 in 2000).

The 85-89 event went to Ed Shea in 1:41.80. Ed's record is 1:39.43. No other 85-89 year-old has swum under 1:46.

Two women's records fell in the 100 back, in the 50-54 and 55-59 age groups.

In the 50-54 division, Arizona Masters' Jonelle Schmidt, 50, clocked 1:10.30, just edging Sue Miller at 1:10.67 with Shirley Cazalet third in 1:12.30. The former record was 1:10.58 set by Betty Bennett in 1994. Miller now ranks third on the all-time list with Cazalet fifth.

As fast as the 50-54 age group was, the 55-59 bunch was even faster. HUMU's Betty Ann Barnett, 55, stroked the four-lap dorsal event in 1:09.92, erasing Betsy Jordan's venerable 1:11.11 sewt nine years ago.

In other fine swims:
* Jessica Tong, 26, TOC, went 57.41, third all-time in the 25-29 age group.
* Andrea Luallen, 35, upset Diane Graner Gallas in the 35-39 age group, 59.66 (fourth all-time) to 59.92.
* Beth Baker, 40, Virginia masters, swam the second fastest 100 back for women 40-44, just missing Laura Val's national mark of 1:01.38 with her 1:01.63.

Four national marks fell in the men's 200 free, as the barriers of the impossible keep getting pushed farther and farther back.

Vail Masters' Paul Smith, 41, nipped his own mark in the 40-44 age group. Smith's 1:43.37 eclipsed the 1:44.03 he established last year.

In the 50-54 division, Jim McConica, Ventura County Masters erased Fast Freddy Schlicher's standard of 1:48.57 that he set two years ago with a swift 1:47.69. McConica and Schlicher are the only two men over 50 who have swum the distance under 1:50.

Cav Cavanaugh notched a 65-69 record, his 2:06.55 just squeaking by the 2:06.63 set by Graham Johnston in 1997. Bill Robertson was second in 2:12.25, making him fifth fastest all-time.

For his part, Graham Johnston shed no tears over records lost. He simply minted himself a new one, taking the 70-74 record down to 2:09.57. Bill Phillips owned the former standard at 2:15.58.

Other outstanding swims:
* Tim Birnie, TOC, won the 55-59 age group in 1:56.06, third fastest all-time.
* Jeff Farrell, 64, Ojai-Santa Barbara, won the 60-64 division in 2:02.81. Only he has swum faster.
* In the 80-84 age group, Dan Miles' 2:53.61 makes him fifth fastest all-time.

Three records fell in the women's 200 free with Liu's 1:48.80 in the 25-29 age group leading the way

In the 40-44 division, the top two finishers broke Laura Val's 1:58.79 that had stood since 1994. Jill Hernandez touched home in 1:56.45, just edging Susanne Simpson at 1:56.94. Suzanne Heim-Bowen, who has been almost invincible finished third in a pr of 1:58.98, ranking her fourth all-time.

Laura Val, at the top of the 45-49 age group, showed there's still a few good swims in her 49-year-old body, cranking out a 1:58.53. The time not only bettered her 45-49 mark (1:59.85 last year), but was faster than her previous 40-44 record.

Two records were washed away in the men's 50 fly.

Paul Smith came down from the mountains to record his second national record for men 40-44 in two tries, adding the 50 fly (23.05) to the 200 free mark he set less than two hours earlier. The old record, 23.28, was held by Bill Specht.

Jesse Coon stroked the two-laps fly in 1:05.84–not bad for the 90 year-old Team Texas dude. The old 90-94 age group markk was Jim Penfold's 1:10.64 from 11999.

Five USMS marks were swept away in the women's 50 fly.

Liu Limin notched her second national standard in the women's 25-29 division in two events, clocking 24.69 seconds, almost a full second faster than the old standard. The old record — 25.68 by Linda Lanini — had stood for 14 years. However, Liu's time is still overshadowed by the 30-34 record of 24.18, set last year by Angel Martino.

GOLD's Tracie Moll, 37, carved two-hundredths off her own 35-39 record set two years ago, touching in 25.86.

Virginia Masters' Beth Baker went 26.42, erasing the second Laura Val record that had lasted seven years. Val's old mark was 26.46.

Once again, Val came right back to set a 45-49 mark, clocking 27.27–14 hundredths under the time she put on the boards in 1997.

Finally, Great Britain's Judy Wilson eased under Ardeth Mueller's 55-59 record of 29.73, clocking 29.47. Diana Todd finished second in 30.04, ranking her third all-time.

Bob Strand's 10-second demolition of the 55-59 record was the high point among four USMS records set in the men's 200 breast.

Strand, TOC, clocked 2:20.49, devastating Pete Andersen's 2:30.65 set just last year. Ken Frost, at 2:29.49, was also under the old mark.

Win one, lose one. Only minutes after setting a 55-59 record, Bob Strand saw his seven year-old record of 2:15.89 in the 45-49 age group fall. It fell to his Olympic Club teammate, Stu Corliss, who clocked in at 2:15.24.

In the 40-44 age group, the top two finishers broke Ron Schafer's 2:09.95 from 2000. Former Russian Palmen Alexandrov was the winner, etching his name in the record book with his 2:08.56. David Guthrie was second in 2:09.80, also under the old mark.

finally, in the youngest age group, Eric Wyles, 24, set a 19-24 record at 2:05.93. Todd Radel held the old record at 2:06.35.

Three records fell in the women's 200 breast. New England Masters' Andrea Packard lowered Wenke Hansen's 25-29 standard of 2:20.70 to 2:20.48. Hansen holds the 30-34 mark at 2:17.50.

Carolyn Boak and Ginger Pierson both dippe under Elaine Bromwich's 55-59 record of 2:55.47. Boak, 56, representing Los Altos Masters, walked away with the record with her 2:54.45, precisely one second ahead of Pierson.

Finally, Maria Lenk-Zigler took an axe to the women's 85-89 record of 6:22.58 set only last year by Eva Mueller. Lenk-Zigler was more than 70 seconds faster, touching in 5:10.94.

Five 400 IM record bit the dust this day.

Cam Reid, 40, of the hometown Santa Clara club, obliterated Seth Bretscher's mark of 4:18/37 set last year. Reid, a former Canadian national champion, touchewd in 4:09.16. His 35-39 record is only one-hundredth of a second faster. If he keeps that up — slowing down only .01 every five years — he'll be 460 years old before he can't get under 4:10. (Just thought I'd throw that in.)

Jim McConica notched his third USMS mark of the meet with his 4:30.10 in the 50-54 age group. Lawrence Day, at 4:3.06, was also under the old record of 4:34.62, set by Fast Freddy Schlicher in '99.

Graham Johnston chaalked up his third 70-74 mark in three attempts, becoming the oldest man ever to break six minutes. Johnston clocked 5:47.48, well under Frank Piemme's 6:05.24 from 1995.

For his part, Piemme recorded a 75-79 mark. His 6;16.17 finally got him in faster than Ray Taft's 6:21.48 from 1995.

Finally, Jesse Coon became the oldest man to swim a 400 IM. The Team Texas 90 year-old established the first-ever 90-94 mark at 112:08.50.

Only one record was set in the women's 400 IM, but it was a doozy. Jill Hernandez cruised in 4:37.83, devastating Laura Val's 4:55.16 from 1996.

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