Oregon Masters swimmer Willard Lamb broke 21 records over five days in Minneapolis
Willard Lamb needed a slight wardrobe change last weekend.
The Oregon Masters swimmer set Masters world records in the 100-, 200-, 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle events over the first four days of the 2017 U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championship in Minneapolis, but he couldn’t break the 50 freestyle record in the men’s 95-99 age group in his first four attempts.
Oregon Masters coach Matt Miller came up with an idea: Lamb should switch from his Speedo to a jammer for the 4 x 50 freestyle relay on Sunday, the final day of the meet, and lead off so he could have another shot at the record. Lamb swam a 45.71, setting a new world record by nearly two seconds.
“I had a hard time getting the 50,” says Lamb, a member of the Oregon Reign Masters workout group in the Portland area. “[Miller] managed to maneuver that. If it wasn’t for that, I would’ve been in really bad trouble.”
Lamb may be underestimating himself. The 94-year-old set nine world records and 12 USMS records at Summer Nationals, breaking some of the same records multiple times. (He competed in the 95-99 age group because he’ll be 95 on the cut-off date of Dec. 31, 2017.)
The 1,000-plus swimmers at Summer Nationals broke 39 world records and 55 USMS records in a meet in which no relay records were broken. Eight swimmers had multiple world record swims and 10 had multiple USMS record swims.
One person who fits into both categories is Florida Aquatic Combined Team’s Betty Lorenzi, who set world and USMS records in the women’s 90-94 50-, 100-, and 200-meter backstroke events with times of 56.89, 2:07.31, and 4:38.48, respectively.
“There was a lot of pressure because there was so many competitors,” the 90-year-old says. “I think there were like [1,000] or something like that and because of that you have more people in your age bracket, you just have more competition.
“As far as doing better and going faster, all I can see is next meet if I do better or faster. You hope to improve every time you go in a meet.”
Lorenzi, a member of the Clearwater Long Center FACT workout group in the Tampa area, said Monday that she was only then realizing how well she performed over the weekend.
She plans to keep swimming in meets because of what swimming means to her. Lorenzi swims a mile each day, a routine she picked up after coming back to the sport about 20 years ago after she competed throughout her childhood.
“It’s a wonderful sport to get so involved with because you have so many people you learn to know over the years,” Lorenzi says. “Swimmers are very interesting people. It’s good to see them time after time, year after year.”
Swim Fort Lauderdale won the local club standings with 1,557 points (men’s and women’s totals combined), and Minnesota Masters won the regional club standings with 3,652 points.
Note: All records are subject to change pending verification.