Olympian Claire Donahue Sets World Records In Masters Swimming Debut

Photo Courtesy: Jeremy Brevard - USA TODAY Sports Images

This year’s Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic in Orlando featured the meet’s namesake in a few events, but it was another Olympian who took the spotlight at the short course meters meet, as Claire Donahue made her Masters swimming debut with two world records in the 25-29 age group.

Donahue, a 2012 Olympic finalist in the 100 fly, has now relocated to Miami after years of training at Western Kentucky University. She represented South Florida Aquatic Club Masters on her way to world marks in the 50 and 100 butterfly events. The 26-year-old posted a 26.31 in the 50 fly, crushing the former record of 27.08 by Nadine Jones of Australia. In the 100 fly, Donahue dominated with a 59.16, becoming the first Masters swimmer under 1:00 in the event. She broke the record of 1:00.18 by Japan’s Yuko Nakanashi with the swim.

Donahue also swam a 2:17.83 in the 200 fly. In the 50 free, Donahue posted a 25.98, but did it butterfly. Because the time was not done in a butterfly event, it won’t count as a Masters world record.

Though Donahue’s swims were a highlight, three other longtime Masters swimmers nearly stole the show with 10 Masters world records. Richard Abrahams was the most prolific, setting five marks in the 70-74 age group.

Abrahams, representing Colorado Masters, got the 100 fly world record in a very unorthodox way. He swam a 1:07.56 on the butterfly leg of the 400 IM, then coasted through the rest of the race in order to make the time legal. He broke his own record of 1:10.50, which he swam in March of this year.

Three other records from this past March also fell by the wayside. Abrahams swam a 26.88 in the 50 free, taking down his own mark of 27.45. He also posted a 29.52 in the 50 fly, beating his 30.43 from March. And he also posted a 1:01.87 in the 100 free, taking down his 1:02.22 from March.

Abrahams’ fifth world record came in the 100 IM, where his 1:13.09 obliterated Richard Burns’ two-year-old record of 1:14.40. With the five world records, Abrahams is on point for a place on the list of the Swimming World Magazine Masters Swimmers of the Year.

Steve Wood took down four Masters world records in the 55-59 age group in Orlando, two of them coming as relay leadoff swims. Starting off YMCA of Central Florida’s 400 medley relay, Wood blasted a 1:00.84 to crush Marco Colombo’s mark of 1:02.26. Later in the meet, his 27.62 leadoff swim was good enough for a 50 backstroke world record, taking down the 29.01 by Tom Barton from 2012. Wood took down another of Colombo’s world records with a 1:01.76 in the 100 IM (former record: 1:03.13) and erased a nine-year-old world record of 24.70 in the 50 free with a 24.66.

Wood had a close call in the 50 fly, just missing Dan Thompson’s world record of 26.45 with a 26.67.

Lisa Blackburn had a lot of near misses in terms of world records, but left the meet with one in the 100 IM for the 40-44 age group. Her time of 1:04.19 clipped Susan Von Der Lippe’s record of 1:04.25 from 2008. Blackburn got within a few tenths of the world records in the 50 breast (33.40), 50 free (26.50) and 200 IM (2:19.83).

Full results available on Meet Mobile.

1 Comment

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Jennifer Parks

    Great swimming, glad to have so many young, old fast Masters. From a no-longer fast Masters swimmer, but still enjoy swimming! JP

Author: Jeff Commings

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Jeff Commings is the Senior Writer for SwimmingWorld.com and Swimming World Magazine. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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