World Record Bonanza Begins on First Day of United States Masters Swimming Long Course Nationals

PHOENIX, Arizona, August 14. THE first day of the United States Masters Long Course National Championships produced five world records in the remodeled Mount Hood Aquatic Center in Gresham, Ore., where more than 1,110 swimmers have gathered for the weekend.

The first record of the meet came from 90-year-old Rita Simonton of Golden West Swim Club, who took more than four minutes off the world record for the 90-94 age group in the 800 freestyle. Simonton swam a 18:53.58 to erase England's Willy van Rysel's name from the record book. The only other world record in the 800 free, the meet's first event, came at the hands of Betty Barnett of Hawaii Masters. Barnett, 62, swam a 11:24.14 to shave nine seconds off Jen Thomasson's world mark and 17 seconds off Jackie Marr's national record.

Marr would get some sort of revenge in the 65-69 age group, setting a new national record of 11:55.93, missing Thomasson's world record in that age group by about three seconds. Marr, of San Diego Swim Masters, beat the national record of 12:23.32 by Lavelle Stoinoff.

The 1500 free finished up the first day of swimming about 14 hours after it started with three major world records.

At the same time Rowdy Gaines was calling races in Beijing at the Olympics, Christopher Derks of Irving Masters was taking down the 1984 Olympian's world and national record in the 35-39 age group with a 16:32.72. Gaines' record of 16:37.34 had lasted since 1994.

Jeff Erwin took down the world record in the men's 40-44 age group with a 16:39.60. Erwin, who also holds the world record in this age group in the 800 free, swam a full six seconds faster than Germany's Michael Kleiber's former mark of 16:45.53 and almost 20 seconds faster than the national record formerly held by Hess Yntema. Timothy Gallaudet also went under Yntema's record.

The other world record in the mile for the men came in the men's 60-64 age group. George Wendt – no, not the actor best known as Norm on the sitcom "Cheers" – swam a 19:07.93. The Illinois Masters swimmer beat Sandy Galletly's world record of 19:25.68.

Suzanne Heim-Bowen, who had a stellar meet at this spring's world championships, broke the only world record in the mile for the women in the 50-54 age group with a 18:32.76. Heim-Bowen, of Walnut Creek Masters, erased Laura Val's old mark of 19:08.69.

Reports are circulating that co-meet director Dennis Baker had signed up to swim the 1500, but was going to do it all butterfly an attempt to do it under 19 minutes. Baker did not swim the event.