US Masters Swimming

Mountain View Masters

MVM’s Best Meet Ever

FINA 2006 World Masters Championships, Standford, CA
August 3-17, 2006

by Chris Campbell

It was almost 3 years ago when FINA announced that the 2006 World Masters Championships would be held at Stanford.  Big meet fans that we were, Alan Liu and I immediately began making big plans.  Not only would Mountain View Masters be grandly represented in the pool and open water competition, Alan was already laying the groundwork for entering a water polo team, and if we could’ve found a way to scare up some divers or synchro swimmers, Team Teal would’ve been there too.

A lot changed between then and now.

As 2006 rolled in, some questions were raised about MVM’s level of participation, about the team’s competitive spirit.  There were some who cut their ties with the team early.  Sometimes, you’ve got to have faith.  One of the important lessons I learned from Alan was not to push people so hard, but to lead by example instead.  So instead of being a loud cheerleader, I put my trust in encouragement, suggestions, and the occasional motivating prod.

Sometimes, faith is rewarded in grand fashion.  The result was MVM’s greatest meet performance ever, both in terms of competition and support.  44 swimmers signed up, which is a record.  43 signed up for pool events, which is also a record.  In the end, 40 swimmers swam 88 individual races, and  Team Teal fielded 24 relays, breaking the record of 23 set at 2001 SCY Nationals.  The meet ended with 48 new individual team records in the book, many of which were broken more than once during the meet, and 17 new relay records.  Brent Lang place 5th in the M35-39 50 Free, while Maria Klein placed 9th in the W45-49 200 Breast.  Martha Seaver finished 10th in the W50-54 age group in the 3km open water swim, which threw us right into the teeth of the incoming tide and a 35 mph wind.  The 120-159 Mixed 200 Free Relay quartet of Brent, Misa Sugiura, Maike Silver and JR deSouza placed 8th, while Maike, Maria and Misa teamed up with Sharlene Gee to place 10th in the Women’s 160-199 200 Medley Relay.  The one race that left me hoarse, though, was the Men’s 160-199 200 Free Relay, where Kirk Kozlowski, Emeric McDonald, JR and Brent roared to a 3rd Place finish, falling only to the hired guns of Team TYR and an Italian all-star team.  14 other MVMers finished in the top 20, while 7 MVM relays did the same.

The numbers are impressive, but dry.  They don’t reflect that MVM was represented by swimmers from not just the USA, but Germany, France, Ireland, Croatia, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and the Czech Republic as well.  They don’t make mention of the volunteer efforts of people like Sue Porter, Flip Dibner and Diane Renshaw, along with daughters Hannah and Reilly, and James Littlejohn, to name a few.   The numbers don’t tell how the teams of Flip and Diane, Sue and Rex Frobenius, and Martha and Charlie Branch, Cindy Fulmer and I helped to make the world a little smaller place by hosting foreign swimmers  for dinner on Monday night.  And they don’t tell the story of how Pete Dahlgren, Rex and I went out and got tanked the night before the open water swim with James’ mates from Aberdeen, Scotland.

You just can’t beat partying with Masters swimmers.

But it’s more about the memories.  It wouldn’t be a meet without stories and images.  The things that will stick with me include watching Mary Leigh Burke run down the swimmer in the lane next to her while anchoring her first relay, and me swimming my first race without goggles in 30 years because a timer wouldn’t get out of my way to the blocks.  Don Ingalls was DA MAN, knocking off 6 Team Records in the M65-69 age group, while Maria Klein and Sharlene Gee took down 4 each in the W45-49 and W40-44 age groups, And someone named Ann Sheerer of Los Altos decided to register with us at the last minute so she could swim in the meet.  She turned out to be screaming fast.  Flip Dibner jumped up at a moment’s notice to swim a leg on a relay when Marcelo couldn’t get back in time.  Maike Silver was Fraulein Fast, breaking all 3 of Susan Donahue’s backstroke marks in the W40-44 age group, while Susan herself shook off the effects of several herniated cervical disks to swim on 3 relays and set records in 2 individual events.  Pete and Rex ended up swimming in the same heat of the 50 Free, just like at the Pleasanton meet.  Brent’s relay leadoff leg would have won the 50 Free the day before, and his relay anchor legs were both among the top 10 50 swims of the entire meet.  He looked every bit like a former Olympian.  Misa scoffed at convention, skipping the high tech body suit for her 2 piecer, being both fast and stylish at the same time. Kirk shook off subpar races in the 50 and 100 Free to get the 160+ Men’s Free Relay off to a flying start with a new record in the 50 Free.  Emeric held the last 50 of his 100 Fly together, crushing his own team record by almost 6 seconds.  Kate Curry shook off the effects of illness to swim 3 different strokes on 3 different relays.  Flip and Diane got to swim together on a relay, as did Maria and her brother Stephen Vahle.  And Maria’s message on my cell phone after she found out she got 9th in her 200 Breast would be music to any swim coach anywhere.   And another former Olympian, JR deSouza came up from southern California for relays and ignited the performances of everyone around him.  On Tuesday, we entered 24 relays and swam 24 relays.  The team started fast and then just got faster.  Of the 24, 17 set records, while the leadoff legs of 12 of them were individual team records. It was the most spectacular single day in MVM history.

And when the day was done, 16 of us headed for margaritas at La Fiesta.  And they raised their glasses and toasted me.  Well, I thought that was kind of silly.  After all, I just put names down on paper.  It was the people who swam the races that made all this great stuff happen.  So I toasted them back, and I told them “Somewhere tonight, Alan Liu is very, very proud.”

And I am too.  This was the best meet ever.