2008 Reflection in the Pool: Records Fell
In 2008 U.S. Masters Swimming membership was up, event participation rose, and records fell. Dozens of U.S. Masters Swimming and Masters world records were broken throughout the year.
Record, after record, after record...
Julie Heather, registrar of Southern Pacific Masters Association, attended the SPMA short course meters championships in Long Beach, California two weeks ago, and was swamped with record forms because of the number of short course meters world records that were broken. "We had a large meet with 560 athletes and it seemed like there was a record broken in each event," remarked Julie. "I filled out 65 individual records and 11 relay records from the weekend!" What does a meet with 76 records being broken feel like? "Thrilling," said Julie. "Most of the time records were broken in the last heats, but every once and a while we'd see a record being broken in an early heat," explained Julie.
Watching a record being broken can be very inspirational. When a swimmer is on pace to break a record the volume within the facility tends to rise, the announcer stands up out of his or her chair, and everyone watches in anticipation... "Did he do it?"
New England Masters also recently held its short course meters championship meet and saw its fair share of broken records, including that of Mike Ross. "Mike is a joy to watch," Tracy Grilli, New England Masters member and U.S. Masters Swimming staff member, commented on Mike's record-breaking swims. "I just stopped and watched him. He makes swimming look effortless," Tracy continued.
Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, of San Diego Swim Masters, also attended and broke records at the meet held at Boston University. Karlyn, a long-time Masters member has broken over 200 Masters world records. "Every record I break is just as exciting and satisfying as the first record I broke in 1993," Karlyn shared. Karlyn says that she enjoys the process of swimming and getting faster even more so than the records themselves. "Many people focus too much on the outcome. If you focus on and enjoy the process the end results will be there," she offers as advice to other swimmers. So what is in store for this world record breaker? "I've lined up quite a few championship meets in 2009, including French Nationals, YMCA Nationals, and Canadian Nationals, so there will be a lot of fine tuning and building strength. It will be important for me, as it is for all Masters swimmers, to include recovery time into my training schedule." Any more world records in sight? "It's fun because every five years when I age up I get to restart the stopwatch and I have new times and records to beat. There is always a new challenge in Masters swimming."
Though swimming fast and breaking records never gets old, Karlyn finds most joy in teaching others how to break records, whether they are personal records, national records, or world records.
Without doubt, like 2008, 2009 will be an exciting year full of shattered records, close races, and split second results. According to Karlyn, "At the pool we can put aside other aspects of life, like what we do for a living, what clothes we wear, and what kind of car we drive, and just focus on ourselves and the races we swim. Results are between you and the clock and nothing else matters."