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by Daniel Paulling

August 25, 2017

Tamalpais Aquatic Masters’ Laura Val had four individual world records

Very few swimmers at the 17th FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest showed the range of Manatee Aquatic Masters Inc.’s Ruth Shaps, who won three races.

Those races? The 3,000-meter open water swim and the 50- and 200-meter freestyle events in the women’s 70-74 age group.

“After my first win, the open water 3K, the feeling was more of relief than excitement,” Shaps, the only U.S. Masters Swimming representative to win an open water and a pool event, wrote in an email. “[It’s] hard to get excited when you’re tired. It was a great way to start the competition, taking the stress off, allowing me to enjoy more of Budapest and the meet.

“The [open water] was a completely different race from the other two. The 200 was exciting as the water was very clear, with a bright day outdoors so everyone could see everyone else. Pacing and strategy played key roles, something I’m not very used to.

“There was no strategy in the 50 other than getting to the wall first. This is my favorite race as it reminds me of childhood days where, as kids in the public pool, we’re all hanging on the gutter and someone says, ‘Race you?!?’ Then someone takes off.”

Shaps was a part of a group of USMS swimmers who recorded eight of the 35 world records set at the meet, a performance led by Tamalpais Aquatic Masters swimmer Laura Val, who broke four individual records and was part of a record-setting mixed 4x50 freestyle relay.

The female USMS swimmers broke six world records, including one apiece by Rose Bowl Masters’ Maurine Kornfeld (95-99 800 freestyle) and Phoenix Swim Club’s Noriko Inada (35-39 100 backstroke).

“I was trying to break some world records,” Inada wrote in an email. “I was happy to break one world record.”

There were also nine USMS records broken at the meet, including one by MOVY Masters swimmer Siphiwe Baleka, who proposed to his girlfriend on the medal stand following his second-place finish in the men’s 45-49 200 individual medley.

Work Pays Off

Rose Bowl Masters swimmer Dan Stephenson spent the past year focused on training for the FINA World Masters Championships. His effort paid off with four gold medals.

Stephenson’s times in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle events in Hungary would’ve been world records, but he had already broken those marks less than two weeks earlier in the 2017 USMS Summer National Championship in Minneapolis.

“[Tapering for back-to-back meets is] always tricky,” Stephenson wrote in an email. “My goals for the [FINA] meet were to have fun, see old friends from all over the world, and to be a good steward of my God-given talents. I also love to race, so I hope to win if possible.”

Stephenson accomplished that in what was perhaps USMS’s best showing in Hungary: a 1-2-3 finish in the men’s 60-64 100-meter freestyle. He went a 58.51, beating Alaska Masters Swim Club’s Rick Abbott and Atlanta Water Jocks’s John Fields.

“The USA 1-2-3 in the 100 free was very fun,” Stephenson wrote. “Rick Abbott and John Fields are great competitors. It’s an honor to be in their league and touch ahead of them from time to time.”

Phoenix Swim Club’s Kohei Kawamoto (35-39 100-meter butterfly) joined Stephenson as the only male USMS swimmers to break world records.

Note: All records are subject to change pending verification. Full meet results are available here.

Records Broken by USMS Swimmers


Noriko Inada, Phoenix Swim Club (35-39 100-meter backstroke, 1:01.75, world and USMS)

Maurine Kornfeld, Rose Bowl Masters (95-99 800-meter freestyle, 21:39.10, world and USMS)

Laura Val, Tamalpais Aquatic Masters (65-69 100-meter freestyle, 1:05.00, world and USMS)

Laura Val, Tamalpais Aquatic Masters (65-69 50-meter backstroke, 34.71 (relay split), world and USMS)

Laura Val, Tamalpais Aquatic Masters (65-69 50-meter backstroke, 34.46, world and USMS)

Laura Val, Tamalpais Aquatic Masters (65-69 100-meter backstroke, 1:15.66, world and USMS)


Siphiwe Baleka, MOVY Masters (45-49 50-meter breaststroke, 30.10, USMS (tie))

Kohei Kawamoto, Phoenix Swim Club (35-39 100-meter butterfly, 54.02, world and USMS)

Dan Stephenson, Rose Bowl Masters (60-64 200-meter freestyle, 2:08.05, world and USMS)

Dan Stephenson, Rose Bowl Masters (60-64 400-meter freestyle, 4:38.37, world and USMS)


Richard Burns-Laura Val-Nancy Ridout-Tate Holt, Tamalpais Aquatic Masters (280 mixed 4 x 50-meter freestyle, 2:05.58, world and USMS)


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