Standouts Thomas Maine, Charlotte Davis, and Mike Freshley down multiple records
Masters swimmers returned to the Greensboro Aquatic Center for another impressive event, the Nationwide USMS Spring National Championship, setting 40 individual and 15 relay records across the four-day meet. That’s nine more records than were set in the same pool at the 2012 meet.
Perhaps the pool got faster in four years. Or perhaps Masters swimmers are getting faster. Whatever the reason, Masters swimmers came to the meet ready to race, and they raised the bar for future championships.
The fast times could also be chalked up to a more competitive meet this year, says Charlotte Davis, a longtime record breaker who made her mark in the 65-69 age group in Greensboro with five astounding records. Davis, representing Puget Sound Masters, erased Cecilia McCloskey’s name in four events: 100 IM (1:10.09), 200 IM (2:35.18), 400 IM (5:35.85) and 100 fly (1:10.12). Davis’s other record came in the 100 free with a 1:00.94, just missing out on becoming the oldest woman under 1:00 in the event but breaking Stella Preissler’s record by nearly 5 seconds.
Davis was excited about performing so well in sprints and distance events, but had some trepidation about swimming up to expectations in the 400 IM. “It is more than just a walk in the park to do a 400 IM,” she says. “I didn’t feel like I [trained] enough, and that’s why I was pleasantly surprised with the swim.”
Thomas Maine was arguably the star of the meet, smashing five national records in the 90-94 age group. Maine, 90 years old and representing St. Louis Masters, is not new to breaking records, owning short course and long course records in the 75-79, 80-84, and 85-89 age groups. Maine had already etched his name into the record book earlier this year for the 90-94 age group at local meets, but says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to earn a few national titles.
“Swimming in Greensboro felt pretty good compared to the way I had been swimming in the recent past,” says Maine, who’s working his way back to form after hip replacement surgery in 2012. “I don’t know why I did so well, but I’ll take it.”
Maine’s first event at nationals was a success; he notched a 1:53.38 in the 100 IM to break Frank Grannis’s record by 3 seconds. Maine amped up the difficulty with a 4:44.76 in the 200 fly, 2:06.88 in the 100 fly, 4:02.84 in the 200 IM and 8:37.61 in the 400 IM. He lowered his own records in the last four events by an average of 13 seconds.
Maine puts a 200 fly into every workout he does, which he says was an integral part of being able to compete in some of the toughest events on the program. “Butterfly seems to come [naturally] to me,” Maine says.
Mike Freshley left Greensboro with six national titles, all in record time in the 75-79 age group. Perhaps his most impressive feat was the back-to-back double of the 100 IM and 200 breast on the second day of the meet. With only about 80 minutes between races, Freshley cranked out times of 1:08.70 in the 100 IM and 2:45.33 in the 200 breast. Both broke records set by David Costill in 2015. Freshley claimed another Costill record with a 1:16.79 in the 100 breast, breaking the record by almost 2.5 seconds.
Freshley’s other records were improvements on the marks he had previously set earlier in the year. He set new standards in the 50 breast (34.95), 200 IM (2:35.67) and 50 fly (29.69).
History was made in the women’s 1650 freestyle on the first day of the meet, when The Olympic Club’s Allison Arnold swam a 17:27.91 to erase the last surviving women’s short course yards national record from the 1980s. The record of 17:31.70 by open water and distance freestyle star Karen Burton had stood since 1987.
“I didn’t expect to set a national record,” says Arnold, a former swimmer at Stanford University who trains up to four days a week. “I didn’t know until one of my teammates told me a few hours later. I didn’t make NCAAs in college, and now I have this (national) record. I feel very honored.”
Robert Strand of Sawtooth Masters swept the breaststroke national records in the 70-74 age group, and added the 200 IM record for good measure. Strand, a celebrated breaststroker for many decades in Masters Swimming, continues to return to form following his 2011 prostate cancer surgery and showed his dominance in the age group. He kicked off his meet with a 2:35.66 in the 200 breast, then backed that up with a 31.70 in the 50 breast and a 1:09.47 in the 100 breast. Strand now also owns the 70-74 200 IM record, thanks to a 2:26.42.
Other multiple record breakers in Greensboro included: Fall Willeboordse (two marks in the women’s 50-54 age group), Nicolas Granger (two records in the men’s 45-49 age group), Yoshi Oyakawa (two records in the men’s 80-84 age group), Larry Day (three records in the men’s 65-69 age group), Kathy Slifer (two marks in the women’s 70-74 age group), and Tom Barton (two marks in the men’s 60-64 age group).