Master swimmers compete at world meet

  • Dana Twight<br>For the Enterprise
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:37am

More than 100 world swimming records, including two individual records by a Shoreline woman, were broken during the FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur) World Masters Championships held on the Stanford University campus Aug. 4-17.

Five swimmers from a local Masters team, the North End Otters, competed in the meet that featured 171 former Olympians. To qualify as a Masters swimmer, participants have to be 18 or older.

Charlotte Davis of Shoreline, a former Olympic synchronized-swimming coach, came home with two individual world records. First, Davis, 56, broke the record in the 400-meter individual medley on Aug. 6 with a time of 6 minutes, 7.72 seconds. The next day, she broke the record for the 200-meter individual medley. Davis said setting the record in the 400 “felt really fun. It’s the kind of race you want to be in control of.”

Davis also won the 50-meter fly with a time of 33.26. In her other race, the 100-meter freestyle, she came in second to another U.S. woman who broke the world record by more than four seconds. Not everyone swims multiple events like Davis, however.

Cathy Cooley of Edmonds traveled to the Bay area for one event, the open-water swim. Cooley, 49, placed ninth in her age group in the swim held in San Francisco Bay near Alameda. Her time was 52:24 for the 3.1 mile swim, placing her 242nd out of the 950 competitors who began the race.

Reached at her home later, Cooley said, “It was a rough ride.” She said she felt seasick, due to the combination of bouncing up and down and swallowing lots of sea water. Even so, “It was great to come home with a medal.” Cooley feels that an open-water swim is “less intense” than pool swimming because there are no competitors surrounding you — “it’s as if you are out there by yourself.”

Margaret Winnie of Edmonds competed in her first international event. Winnie swam the 100 freestyle and 50 breaststroke even after a fall at her hotel kept her from feeling her best. Despite the fall, she improved her breaststroke time by five seconds. Winnie said she “had a really good time” and is making plans for her next competition. What will she swim? “I’m going to work on my butterfly.”

Mike Nordby was competing in his first international meet, so he entered the maximum five events. In his 400-meter individual medley, he finished seventh in his age group and dropped over 16 seconds from his entry time to finish in 7:00.97. Nordby set personal bests and finished among the top 10 times in the 200-meter backstroke, the 200-meter individual medley and the 200-meter breaststroke.

Jan Kavadas went to the meet and did it all. She competed and served as a volunteer stroke-and-turn official for four days. Kavadas finished with four medals for her races, including a fifth place in the 200 backstroke. In her last event, the 100 backstroke, she dropped almost three seconds from her best time.

Interviewed at the meet, she said she noticed a difference in the cheers from the stands. “When I began swimming in my 40s, I remember all of the kids in the stands yelling ‘Go Mom!’ The kids are still cheering, but now they are yelling ‘Go Grandma!’”

A teenager at the meet commented on how the swimmers treated each other like family. Indeed, the swimmers all say that fitness and fellowship are as important as winning medals. As Kavadas writes in the current issue of the Pacific Northwest Aquatics newsletter, The Wet Set, it is important for all swimmers to keep on swimming. She wrote, “at a meet, there is support for all swimmers. … You’re only as old as you feel. Don’t compare yourself to a 50-year-old. Please continue to provide inspiration for the rest of us.”

Dana Twight is a student in the University of Washington Newslab.

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