Three Masters World Records in Tempe

By Phillip Whitten

TEMPE, Arizona, November 18. THREE Masters world records and an additional US mark highlighted the first day of competition at the Southwest Short Course Meters Zone Championships at Arizona State University in Tempe. The two-day meet concludes tomorrow.

Mike Freshley, San Diego Swim Masters, got the ball rolling in the first event, the 400-meters individual medley, when he dipped under Graham Johnston's standard of 6:04.40 for men 65-69 with a well-paced 6:03.58. Johnston's mark had lasted just five days shy of 10 years.

Former University of Texas standout Jeff Commings stroked a brilliant 1:01.62 in the 100-meter breaststroke to slash almost a full second off the previous global standard of 1:02.57 by 1992 Olympian Ron Karnaugh. Karnaugh's mark was set in 2002. Commings, swimming for Tucson Ford Masters, later came back to win the 100m IM in 57.57, missing a second world record by less than a second.

Swimming while recovering from the flu, three-time Olympian Susan von der Lippe, Colorado Masters, shaved 5-hundredths of a second off Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen's four year-old 200-meter fly mark for women 40-44 with a 2:20.66. Earlier, von der Lippe had just missed breaking Pipes-Neilsen's records in the 100 and 400 IM with times of 1:06.04 and 5:03.82.

Perhaps the most stirring performance was Ron Johnson's American record in the 100m fly for men 75-79. Johnson, of the host Sun Devil Masters, clocked 1:32.31 only three months after undergoing heart surgery for arterial fibrillation. Johnson's time erased Frank Piemme's American record of 1:35.41 and just missed the world record of 1:32.07 held by Germany's Robert Pfersdorff.