Russell, Hogan, Coleman Lead Way to 27 Records
Swimmers at the Maryland Senior Olympics meet were geared up for qualifying to the 2011 National Senior Games as 27 state records were established, including two of the oldest remaining marks in MSO history and some amazing performances by the women, who set 23 of the new records.
The storylines at Germantown Indoor Swim Center Sept. 11 were jumping off the page as Doris Russell, 90, of Ellicott City, established five new records in the 90-94 age group. Mrs. Russell, who rested in a wheelchair between her events and made her way to the pool with the aid of a cane, managed to trim her personal times in three events.
“My legs don’t work so well but I just love the water,” said the lifelong swimmer who the Baltimore Sun dubbed “Madame Butterfly.” “When I get in the water, that’s where I’m happiest. It feels like home to me.”
“They were as funny in the water as out of it,” she told The Sun.
Reaching the 90-94 age group in May and breaking records have been a goal of Mrs. Russell’s for more than a year. She went to the U.S. Masters championships in Atlanta last spring and won six more gold medals. She prepped hard for the Maryland games—her daily workout is 50 minutes in the pool at the Columbia Swim Center—and picked up gold in the 50-yard butterfly (1:27.39), 50 (1:00.62) and 200 freestyle (6:30.31). Her 2:23.85 in the 100 freestyle beat long-time MSO participant Beatrice Schwartz’s mark by 4 minutes, 9 seconds.
In the 500 freestyle, having competed in her fifth event in just under five hours, Mrs. Russell picked up an amazing head of steam over her final two laps and posted a 14:37.28, setting a new benchmark for the age group. Mrs. Russell received cheers and applause as she cruised to the finish.
“It was a very good day,” she said. “But now I’m a little hungry.”For swimmers, and champions, such as Elizabeth Hogan of Upper Marlboro, watching seniors like Mrs. Russell has been motivation to stay active and compete. Once an Olympic challenger who was on the UCLA swim team as a freshman, Ms. Hogan left the pool for 28 years until after a horrific auto accident in 2004. She was in rehab for weeks after suffering a broken hip, pelvis, femur, ankle and both wrists.
Her husband Keith Lucas took her to the Prince George’s County Recreation Center pool in a wheelchair to begin range of motion exercises and to slowly start walking again. There, she began to get the urge to compete after a co-worker told her of Masters swimming.
“Coming back to swimming has helped me so much,” said Ms. Hogan, 53, a research engineer for the Navy. “I could not have recovered without it and the competition has helped me so much.”
So, coming into this year’s national qualifying year at the Maryland Games, Ms. Hogan, who admits her work travel schedule has cut into her training this year, was “just trying to see what kind of shape I’m in. I know I’m not in the best of shape from a few weeks ago.”
Battling a sore shoulder, she nonetheless captured four gold medals by setting new marks for her existing records in the 200-yard intermediate medley, 100 butterfly, 200 backstroke and 500 freestyle.
Amid all this excitement, Jill Coleman, 80, of Owings Mill had an amazing meet tinged with great irony. She entered holding 65-69 age-group records in the 100 (1:39.76) and 200 backstroke (3:33.95), and the 100 breaststroke (1:50.95). Those records had been standing since 1997-’98. All were broken.
Christine Jorgensen of Annapolis leaped into the 65-69 age group and broke Mrs. Coleman’s 100 and 200 backstroke records with times of 1:32.35 and 3:25.51, respectively. Carolyn Foster of Annapolis clocked a 1:44.43 to break Mrs. Coleman's 100 breaststroke record.
So, she obviously had no choice but to set some new records of her own in the 80-84 age group. Mrs. Coleman just nudged Mrs. Russell’s 10-year-old mark in the 50 freestyle, destroyed Kathleen Ryan’s record from 2000 in the 200 back by almost 2 minutes, and smashed Louise Walker’s 2:41.89 in the 100 back with a 1:54.90. Mrs. Coleman’s best performance of the day was a :54.84 in the 50-yard backstroke, eclipsing the 1991 mark of 1:05.90 by Sarah Lee Poore.
Newcomer of the year honors go to Gladney McKay of Severna Park. In her first year of eligibility to the Senior Olympics, the long-time coach set records in the 50-54 age group 50-yard breaststroke, 100 IM and 200 freestyle.
The best competition of the meet was women's 65-69 50-yard freestyle, where Carolyn Foster, Carolynn Foley and Joan Libby of Annapolis had an amazing race for the medals. Mrs. Foster's time of :40.21 just nudged Mrs. Foley (:40.43) and Mrs. Libby (:40.87).
Several of Maryland’s best male swimmers—some of whom won medals at the 2009 National Senior Games—opted not to qualify through the state games this year. As a result, only four new men’s records were set after 15 were made last year.
Thomas Matysek, 56, of Joppa, posted a swift 2:44.63 in the 200-yard backstroke to best Jeff Harries' 1997 mark of 2:53.47. We also corrected the books of the 55-59 age group 50 breaststroke to reflect Mr. Matysek’s 2009 time of 34.13 being an MSO record.
But the day turned out to be a wash for Mr. Matysek with records. Jeff Viohl, 52, of Millersville, wiped out his 50-54 age group times in the 100 and 200 backstroke. Mr. Viohl’s 2:34.85 in the 200 backstroke was 10 seconds faster than Mr. Matysek’s 2006 performance, but the 100 backstroke time of 1:12.29 was just 4/10ths of a second better.
The other men’s record was an impressive 1:39.17 by Paul Stanton in 80-84 breaststroke, easily passing Esko Hallila’s 2000 mark of 2:05.54.
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