Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, 40, Cracks 5 Minutes for the 500 yd. Free

CORONADO, Calif, Oct. 6. FORTY year-old Masters swimmer Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen swam an amazing 4:58.98 500-yard free at a USA-S Freestyle Festival meet held October 6th in Coronado, CA.

Pipes-Neilsen became the first woman over 40 to break the five-minute barrier on the way to smashing the 40-44 age group USMS national record of 5:07.76 set by Suzanne Heim-Bowen in 2001. Karlyn’s 4:58.98 was also faster than the 4:59.08 record she set for the 30-34 age group in 1996.

Competing in the 12 & over category and representing the host team Coronado Navy Swim Association, Pipes-Neilsen came roaring home in a 57.78 to hit the pad solidly under 5 minutes. Her splits were:

27.84, 30.36, 30.43, 30.77, 30.72, 30.48, 30.31, 30.19, 29.32, 28.46.

Pipes-Neilsen won the event by over six seconds, with second place being awarded to 14-year old up-and-coming distance ace Mary Beth Francis of Pacific Swim with a time of 5:05.16.

Earlier in the meet, Pipes-Neilsen competed in the 15 & over category, where she won the 100-yard free with a speedy early season time of 52.72. Her time tied 1972 Olympic gold medalist Sandy Nielsen-Bell’s USMS national record established in 1996. Pipes-Neilsen also won the 50 free with a 24.69, just barely nipping Pacific Swim’s 15-year old Hannah McClurg by a mere one-hundredth of a second.

From 1974 to 1980, Pipes-Neilsen competed as an AAU swimmer for Coronado Navy Swim Association (CNSA) under legendary coach Mike Troy. In 1994, she re-established her ties with CNSA and trains with the team whenever possible. Pipes-Neilsen’s husband, Eric Neilsen, has been the head coach of CNSA since 1999.