By PATTI SCOTT-BAIER
For The Union Democrat
Great teamwork by Tuolumne County Aquatic Masters swimmers led to a sixth-place team finish at the three-day Pacific Masters Long Course Championships on Aug. 10-12 at San Mateo Community College.
Each of the 22 local swimmers contributed to the team point total by scoring in the top eight in individual and relay events. The TCAM team set 23 new team records and numerous personal bests in the 50-meter pool.
Over 580 swimmers representing 50 masters teams competed in the championships.
The University of San Francisco masters won the team division, followed by Menlo Masters, San Mateo Masters, Walnut Creek Masters and Davis Aquatic Masters. TCAM was only 200 points out of fifth place.
TCAM’s Dick Todd, 70, had an outstanding meet and continued to rewrite the record books. Todd set new team records in all seven of his swims. Even more impressive, Todd broke five Pacific Masters records including two that were set over 20 years ago.
Todd’s new Pacific Masters records were in the 200 back (3:01.44) and 200 IM (3:10.65) plus all three of the breast events, including the 50 (40.38), 100 (1:30.78) and 200 (3:19.33).
His final two team records were in the 50 back (40.68) and 100 free (1:15.52). Todd was first in six of his seven events. He ranked first in the high point awards for the 70-74 age division.
Mary Welsh, 59, and Connie Birdsall, 67, both placed second in the high point standings in their respective age division, 55-59 and 65-69.
Welsh was only six points behind the winner of her division. Her most impressive swims were racing the 1,500 free, followed by the challenging 400 IM.
Birdsall focused primarily on the distance swims in both the breast and free plus the IM. Her 400 and 800 free were steadily-paced. With her competitive drive, Birdsall always finishes strong at the end of her distance swims and set a new team record in the 200 IM (4:51.94).
Top three finishes in the high point standings were achieved by both Lisa Hieb-Stock, 32, and Bob Garretson, 79.
Hieb-Stock swam to three personal bests. In both her 200 and 400 free, she improved by over five seconds. She dropped two seconds off of her 200 back.
Garretson finished no lower than third in all of his events.
Along with Hieb-Stock, Matt Gass, 54, and Bob Chambers, 59, both swam to three bests. With the long course ruling of using the swimmers age as of Dec. 31, both men competed in the next higher age division.
After a successful short course 25-yard season, Gass swam to four new team records in the 50-54 age division. His new records were in the 100 fly (1:23.73) where he dropped his time by nine seconds, the 200 back (2:59.27)with five seconds improvement, and the 50 back (36.93) by one second. His fourth record was in the 100 breast (1:35.56) which he swam for the first time.
Chambers was the most improved swimmer of the meet with an overall improvement of 26 seconds. He shaved 13 in the 400 free, 10 in the 200 back and three in the 50 back. His 200 back, 4:13.74, was a new team record in the 55-59.
Along with Birdsall’s team record, the women in the 65-69 and 70-74 divisions swam to eight records. Rewriting the team record books were Susan White, 70, with four records, Gail Rodd, 69, with two and Connie Williams, 65, with one.
Swimming only one day of the meet, White packed in her five events and swam over 1,350 meters for the day. White’s new records were in the 200 free (4:17.54), 50 back (1:06.34), 200 back (5:03.52), 100 fly (2:33.41) and 800 free (17:54.54). White finished ninth in the high point standings for the 70-74.
Rodd, by the long course ruling, finished sixth in the high point standings for the 70-74 division. Her new records in the 65-69 were in the 1500 free, 32:14.71 and the 200 back, 5:10.53.
Williams, coming off several injuries, swam a fast 100 breast, 2:11.60 to set a new team record in the 65-69.
Becoming a stronger distance freestyler paid off for Kyle Stock, 39, as he set new team records in both the 400 free (6:30.85) and the 800 free (13:49.28). Stock grabbed the fifth spot in the high point standings in the 35-39.
Laurie Perry, 58, swam an evenly-paced race in her 400 free to achieve a new best by three seconds. Perry finished ninth in the standings in the 55-59.
Adding additional points to the team total with top 15 placement in the age group standings were Jon Mahanna, 64, placing sixth in the 65-69 and Kirby Smith, 65, in 11th place.
The teams highest scoring age division was the 70-74 men along with Todd, Bill Anning, 71, finished in sixth, Karl Kleman, 72, in seventh and Dave Fairfield, 72 in eighth place.
For the women, Mica Van Noord, 38, placed eighth in the 35-39. Sheryl Parola, 63, was ninth and Robin Carter, 61, was 15th in the 60-64 division. Swimming in only her first meet, Carole Sears, 65 was 11th in the 65-69.
The TCAM relays are always the highlight of the meet. The competitors swim faster on the relays. The 40-year relay divisions are determined by adding the ages of the team members together.
The TCAM mens 280-plus 400 free relay team, set its sites high before their race of trying to break the Pacific Masters record. With fast swims by all four members, including Mahanna, Kleman, Fairfield, and Todd, the team shattered the record by over seven seconds. Unfortunately, so did the Menlo Masters who were a bit faster and captured the record.
The same men finished third in the 280-plus 200 medley relay.
The 240-plus mens 400 free relay finished in fifth place. Each swimmer raced 100 free including Larry Carter, Chambers, Gass, and Smith.
For the women in the 200 medley relay, the 240-plus team of White, Williams, Parola, and Carter placed sixth. In the same race, the 160-plus team of Hieb-Stock, Van Noord, Welsh, and Birdsall raced to seventh place.
In the 200 mixed free relays composed of two men and two women, the two entered TCAM teams were seeded next to each other for the race. From start to finish, the relays surged back and forth and only at the end was the victor determined.
The 280-plus team of Garretson, Birdsall, Parola and Todd finished less than two seconds ahead of the 240-plus team of Robin Carter, Perry, Smith and Mahanna.
The TCAM swimmers will continue to train throughout the fall for meets in Modesto and Walnut Creek plus team mini meets. The team is also focusing on their own upcoming Pinecrest swim and the fall open water events.