The three-time gold medalist set a USMS record in the 50-meter freestyle, his signature race
Anthony Ervin may be a four-time Olympic medalist who’s competed all over the world, but he was still nervous when he stepped on the blocks Thursday at the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championship at the Marguerite Aquatic Center in Mission Viejo, Calif.
Ervin won his three races—the 50-meter freestyle on Thursday, the 100 freestyle on Friday, and the 50 butterfly on Sunday—which, considering his background, was to be expected. But the experience of competing in Summer Nationals provided Ervin with a lot.
“I’ve seen so many people at this meet, all generations of my swimming career, from when I was an age-grouper as a kid to all the way up through college,” he says. “I appreciate all of you and thank you for rekindling me. Especially now as a father, it’s important to grasp onto and remember where I came from. Thank you, Masters swimming, for that.”
When Ervin swam, fans lined the pool deck with cellphones raised to capture the defending Olympic champion in the 50 freestyle in action and cheered him when he finished. He also did a book signing for his 2016 book “Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian” and autograph session for 90 minutes and took countless photos with swimmers who stopped him on the pool deck.
Golden Road Aquatics member Mario Marshall was the closest competitor to Ervin, finishing second in the 50 freestyle and 50 butterfly and third in the 100 freestyle. He enjoyed the opportunity to swim against Ervin, who represented Swim Fort Lauderdale.
“Absolute honor to be able to have an opportunity to swim against someone who’s been there and done it,” Marshall says. “He’s been one of my major inspirations my entire swimming career, ever since high school. Seeing him go 20, 21 in high school, I was like, ‘Whoa, someone can go that fast?’ Much respect to Mr. Ervin.”
As Ervin’s swimming career progresses, he’s starting to have more in common with his fellow Masters swimmers. When he wakes up in the morning, he feels knee pain, and his back and neck sometimes ache. The 38-year-old also has a 3-year-old daughter to care for.
Balancing fatherhood and training for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials is difficult.
“It’s tough because I’m on the road all the time and just that alone makes it very difficult to train,” Ervin says. “I find time to get it in. Sometimes that means waking up early in the morning or staying up a little later. I love my kid. I’m only three years in. It’s passing me by.”
Ervin, who was participating in his fourth USMS national championship, hopes that his fellow Masters swimmers continue to enjoy their sport.
“If you can have that kind of improvement-based mindset and be ceaselessly and relentlessly creative in trying to explore and be more free with it, you’re going to enjoy swimming that much more,” Ervin says. “The time results, if you want to chase that in a competitive sense, you can get a little more hard data and work with that, but I want to say keep exploring and you’ll find your own way. Everybody does.”
Records Broken on Sunday, Aug. 11
Allen Stark, Oregon Masters: men’s 70-74 200 breaststroke—3:06.10 (USMS record)
Lo Knapp, Swim Utah: women’s 65-69 200 breaststroke—3:19.16 (FINA Masters world record)
Jamie Fowler, Novaquatics Masters: men’s 60-64 100 backstroke—1:06.08 (USMS record and FINA Masters world record)
Holly Green Blair, Palm Beach Masters: women’s 55-59 100 backstroke—1:09.69 (USMS record and FINA Masters world record)
Traci Granger, Los Angeles Peninsula Swimming: women’s 60-64 50 butterfly—31.11 (USMS record and FINA Masters world record)
Ellen Reynolds, Sawtooth Masters: women’s 55-59 200 freestyle—2:16.28 (USMS record and FINA Masters world record)
Richard Burns, Tamalpais Aquatics Masters: men's 75-79 50 freestyle—29.60 (USMS record and FINA Masters world record)
Rose Bowl Masters: men’s 72-99 200 freestyle relay—1:35.48 (USMS record)
Final Team Scores
1. Oregon Masters, 1,019 points
2. Arizona Masters, 646 points
3. Puget Sound Masters, 477 points
4. Colorado Masters Swimming, 406 points
5. New England Masters Swim Club, 269 points
1. San Diego Swim Masters, 2,237 points
2. Mission Viejo Masters, 1,953 points
3. Swim Fort Lauderdale, 1,658 points
4. Novaquatics Masters, 1,578 points
5. Rose Bowl Masters, 1,283 points
6. Davis Aquatic Masters, 914 points
7. Conejo Valley Masters, 712 points
8. Golden Road Aquatics, 522 points
9. Santa Barbara Masters, 470 points
10. Southern California Aquatic Masters, 431 points