The Union Democrat Sports Department

Clean, smokeless air proved to be good conditions for Tuolumne County Aquatic Masters swimmers as the team finished second on Aug. 24 at the Modesto Masters Meet held in the 25-meter pool at Modesto Junior College.

Fresno's Fig Garden Masters won the meet with 2,400 points. TCAM were less than 200 points behind with 2,236 followed by the home team, Modesto Area Aquatic Club, with 1,103.

The TCAM knew they had to step up when 10 of their teammates had to cancel from the meet due to the Rim Fire.

The team's efforts resulted in 33 team records and 10 TCAM relays scored in the top four with four teams winning gold. All 24 TCAM members contributed points toward the team total in both individual and relay events.

Bob Garretson, 80, Mary Welsh, 60, LaDeane Hansten, 46, and TJ Renna, 29, each set five team records in their respective age divisions.

Garretson and Welsh continued to rewrite the records after moving into a new age division this year. Garretson, competing in the 80-84 division, set records in the 50-meter backstroke, 55.10; 200-meter freestyle, 4:00.07, 50-meter breaststroke, 1:02.78, 100-meter backstroe, 2:05.53 and 100-meter freestyle, 1:48.92.

In the 60-64, Welsh's records were in the 100 Individual Medley, 1:28.71, 50 free, 34.73; 50 back, 42.68; 200 free, 2:51.21; and 200 IM, 3:12.25.

Swimming in her first meet after several years away from competitive meets, Hansten set records in the 100 IM, 1:19.02; 50 free, 33.00; 50 butterfly, 35.47; 100 back, 1:19.89; and 100 free, 1:10.89.

Former TCA and Sonora High swimmer, Renna, swam in his first masters competition. He set marks in the 25-29 age group in the 100 fly, 1:34.85, 100 breast, 1:38.78; 200 free, 2:54.13; 200 IM, 3:10.71 and the 100 back, 1:33.21.

Four records apiece were achieved by Matt Gass, 56, and Kyle Stock, 40. In the 55-59, Gass broke records in the 200 free, 2:37.22; 200 IM, 2:58.76; 50 breast, 41.55; and the 400 free, 5:49.81.

Stock swimming in the 40-44, set records in the 50 free, 33.91; 50 back; 40.73, 200 free; 2:57.74; and 100 free, 1:15.90.

Susan White, 71, transitioned from open water to the pool with success and broke two records in the 70-71 group. Her records were in the 50 back, 1:02.43; and 100 fly, 2:30.60.

Single records were set by Toni Wivell, 76, Jim Lucich, 54, and Rachel Ottem, 28. The new mark for Wivell was in the 50 fly, 1:59.24; Lucich in 400 free, 7:06.31; and Ottem in 100 IM, 1:34.94.

In the team relays, the 40-year-old relay divisions are determined by adding the swimmers ages together.

In several of the heats, the TCAM relays often found themselves racing each other, which resulted in close finishes. In the final relay of the meet, the 200 mixed free relay, the 120-plus team held on at the finish to out touch the 200-plus team by less than a second.

The 120-plus team of Gary Johnson, 62, Ottem, Lisa Hieb-Stock, 33, and Renna finished in 2:22.69 with the 200-plus team of Heidi Steelman, 52, Stuart Welsh, 57, Hansten, and Gass close behind in 2:23.02. The 280-plus team of Wivell, White, Garretson, and Paul Fairfield, 66, also grabbed the gold medal.

In the 200 medley relay, both the women's 200-plus and 240-plus teams were first. For the younger team, Steelman led off with back, followed by Kelly Thalman, 50, swimming breast, Hansten fly and Jane Lucich, 51, free. The 240-plus team was composed of Ruth Garretson, 68, Jodie Forster, 54, Welsh, and Laurie Perry, 59. The second team in the 240-plus division finished in second. The relay was composed of White, Robin Carter, 62, Hieb-Stock, and Wivell.

The TCAM men's medley relays raced to silver medals. The 240-plus team of Johnson, Kirby Smith, 67, Larry Carter, 65, and John Mahanna, 65, and the 200-plus team of Gass, Jim Lucich, Welsh, and Stock were both second.

Johnson and Perry continued their summer improvement trend with Johnson recording three personal bests and Perry two.

Scoring significant points by placing first in all of their events were Bob Garretson, Perry, Renna and White.

Swimming to top three placings in all of their events were Larry Carter, Robin Carter, Ruth Garretson, Hansten, Hieb-Stock, Jim Lucich, Ottem, Steelman, Mary Welsh, Stuart Welsh and Wivell.

The TCAM will next compete at the Pacific Masters Championships in October at Walnut Creek.