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by Meegan Wilson

July 19, 2000

Founded Maryland Masters in 1974

Nancy Brown was captain of the swim team at Friends School in Baltimore in 1953 and 1954, but didn't swim competitively after that until entering the Masters program in 1974. She founded the Maryland Masters Swim Team that year (1974), and has served on the Maryland Masters Swimming Association board since it's inception in the 70s to the present. In 1989 she received the Maryland State Governor's Citation for contribution to physical fitness in the state of Maryland, especially in Anne Arundel County.

Nancy helped run and ran the swimming at the Maryland Senior Olympics from the mid 90s to 2004 and was elected into the Maryland Senior Olympics Hall of Fame in 2005.  In 2009 she was elected into The Friends School Sports Hall of Fame (Nancy Lang Whedbee Brown, 1954).

She set national records in the 55-59 age group in the 200-yard butterfly, 200 backstroke, 100 backstroke and 400 IM (still standing in 1997).

In 1991, she established a world record in the 100-short course meters backstroke and was selected for Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd section in the July 8, 1991 issue. She held USMS records in the 200 butterfly and 400 IM in the 60-64 age group. She received the John deBarbadillo award at YMCA Masters nationals in l995 for outstanding contribution to YMCA Masters competition.

In 2005, Nancy set six women 65-69 National Senior games records during the National Senior Games meet in Pittsburgh. Her record swimming times were in the 50-, 100-, and 200- yard backstroke, in the 200-, and 500-yard freestyle, and in the 200-yard IM.

2006 was a big year for Nancy as she moved decisively into the women 70-74 age group. She set a total of six USMS national age group records in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke events, in the 200-, and 400-yard IM events, and in the 100-SCM and 200-SCM backstroke events. Additionally, she set nine YMCA national records in the 70-74 age group. Nancy also swam to victory in the women 70-74 USMS Two Mile Cable National Championship while setting a USMS long distance national record. She successfully competed in the 2006 FINA World Championships at Stanford in August of 2006 and placed first in the 200-LCM back, second in the l00-LCM free and 200-LCM free, and third in 800-LCM free. On the 2006 FINA World Top SCM Times list, Nancy ranked number one in three events (200-SCM free, 200-SCM back, and 400-SCM IM). She also ranked number two in two SCM events, number three in five SCM events, number four in two SCM events, and number six in three SCM events. The FINA World Top LCM Times list shows Nancy listed thirteen times (number two in four LCM events; number three in four events; number four in one event; number five in two events; number six in one event; and nine in one event).

By the end of 2006, Nancy ranked number one in 16 out of 18 USMS events on the 2006 USMS SCY Top Ten times list, number one in 13 out of 17 events on the USMS Long Course Meters Top Ten times list, and number one in 15 out of 18 events on the USMS SCM Top Ten times list. She was named pool All-American for 2006 as a result of placing number one on the USMS Top Ten times list. She was named long distance All-American in 2006 due to her win at the USMS Two-Mile Cable Long Distance National Championship. 

She was also named Women 70-74 All-Star by virtue of placing number one in a total of 44 out of 51 possible SCY, LCM, and SCM events.  This was Nancy's first All-Star listing and was one of her goals for the year. Congratulations on the great swimming achievements.

On July 12, 2008 she broke the record for the one mile cable swim in the 70-74 age group at Chris Greene Lake Swim in Virginia with a time of 32:40.49 taking 2:13 off the record set in 1986. She also completed the 4/4 mile Chesapeake Bay swim in 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2007.

Nancy is a grandmother of 16 (including a set of twins). She is in her 24th year (1986 to 2010) as the coach of a branch of Maryland Masters, the SPY Maryland Masters swim team. Several swimmers from her team also represent the Anne Arundel County YMCA. They have been competing at Y Nationals since 1986 and have won 10 Y titles since that time. Nancy herself has held many Y national records over the years.

Nancy said, "Coaching is the thing I like doing best in swimming." She has coached or taught swimming since the age of 16.

In 2010 Nancy was awarded the U.S. Masters Swimming Fitness Award for her exemplary promotion of the mission of USMS.

Since Nancy was aging up to 75 in 2011, she set her goal to make the All-Star Team and hopefully establish some records. Her plan was to swim all events in all courses plus an open water swim. In July, 2011 she was diagnosed with a very rare cancer, primary peritoneal cancer. She had to have extensive surgery in September, followed by chemotherapy. Fortunately, she was able to complete all events in the SCY and LCM season as well as swimming the one-mile cable swim. She was worried about the SCM season since her surgery was looming, but with the help of her teammates at Maryland Masters, she was able to complete all SCM events too.  She accomplished her goals, establishing records in the 100 and 200 backstroke in both SCY and SCM and making the 2011 All-Star Team. Way to go Nancy!

After her September 28, 2011 surgery she was not able to swim for seven months due to complications. In April 2012 she competed at YMCA Nationals, her very first time back in the water, and it sure felt good. A followup Pet Scan in May showed no cancer - she was in remission. Chemotherapy will continue as maintenance for no more than a year unless things get worse again. Nancy is continuing to swim and compete and will hopefully be ready for the Chesapeake Bay Swim in June 2013.

Nancy Brown swims for Maryland Masters and currently lives in Pasadena, Md.

updated by Meegan Wilson