I had the pleasure of serving as Oregon’s Head National coach this year for the second time (first time was in 2015 at Spring Nationals). What a great meet the 2017 USMS Summer Nationals was for Oregon swimmers! There were 20 Oregon swimmers who made the trip to Minneapolis, and Oregon was well represented by some very fast swimming. OREG was able to put together 14 relays, most of which placed very well, and two of them won National Champion honors! We had six people who were individual National Champions (details to follow below) and those six individuals won a total of 18 individual events! The star of the show was, by far, Willard Lamb, who won all 6 of the events he swam, setting World records in all of them, along with splits that gave him a total of 9 World records for the meet. Quite a number of other Oregon swimmers finished very high in their age groups in many events. Additionally, there were 19 Zone records and 29 Oregon records that were broken. We swam very well as a team and Oregon placed 4th out of 17 regional teams, earning a banner and placing only 66 points out of 3rd place, behind Wisconsin who had 45 swimmers to our 20!
So that covers the highlights! I’m going to do something a bit different with this event summary and give a day-by-day review. Throughout the meet I posted daily summaries on Facebook for followers back in Oregon to keep up with their friends. What is to follow in this article is an editing and compilation of the summaries I wrote each day of the meet. Let’s get started!
Day 1 of swimming at USMS Summer Nationals in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Highlight of the day for me was, without a question, watching Willard Lamb swim his way to 5 national and 4 world records (counting splits) on his way to crushing the 1500m free LCM world record by more than 10 minutes!!!
Also, my new good friend, Barry Fasbender, with whom I swim at Superior Athletic Club in Medford, won his age group (80-84) in the 1500 free as well, so we have 2 national champions from Oregon on the first day! I (Matt Miller) also swam the 1500 free, placing 2nd in my age group (40-44).
Day 2 of swimming at USMS Summer Nationals in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wow! What a long day today and the meet hasn’t even really gotten busy yet (only distance events and 2 relays so far)! I forgot how much work being the nationals coach is! (I haven’t done it since 2015 spring nationals). I absolutely love every second of it, though it definitely requires a lot of focus and energy!
Most of the 20 swimmers coming from Oregon were at the pool today even though there were only 2 individual distance events: 800 free and 400 IM. But today was the first day with relays, which were the men’s and women’s medley relays. Relays are the best part of nationals (IMO)!!
Even though relays ended the day, I’ll start with writing about them. For the men, we (Oregon) had only one medley relay and it featured multiple world record holder Willard Lamb, Barry Fasbender, Rick Howell and Mark McAllister. Barry swam back, Rick breast, Mark fly and Willard freestyle. Thanks in large part to Willard at age 95, they swam in the 280-319 age group (cumulative ages of the 4 swimmers) and finished in 3rd place! Willard, anchoring the relay, nearly ran down the younger gentleman just ahead of him for 2nd place. How fun that was to watch!
For the women, there were two medley relays in the 240-279 age group. The ‘B’ relay consisted of Jeanna Summers swimming backstroke, Heather Wiley swimming breast, Elke Asleson doing fly and Joy Ward doing freestyle. This was one of the most exciting finishes of the day as three women came to the wall within one-half second of each other! Unfortunately for Oregon, we were the 3rd to touch the wall. But our ‘B’ relay medaled and scored points, finishing in 8th place!
For the women’s ‘A’ relay, also in the 240-279 age group, Karen Andrus-Hughes swam back, Janet Gettling swam breast, Arlene Delmage swam the fly and fellow southern Oregonian and Medford Superior Athletic Club swimmer, Jan Hildebrandt, swam freestyle. They were the top seed, so had a chance to win the event, and had a possibility of getting an Oregon record if they went under 2:30.81. And they did both! They handily won their age group and went 2:27.03! That was only about 2 seconds off a national record and less than 1 second off the Northwest Zone record. And Oregon crowned 4 more national champions today! Congrats to Karen, Janet, Arlene and Jan!
What a way to end the day….now to rewind to the 800 Free and 400 IM events…
To start the day off, we (Oregon) had two women and two men swimming the 800 free. Rick Howell took the red eye flight from Portland last night and got about three hours sleep on the plane before arriving this morning in MSP. He came straight to the pool and swam a very respectable 800 free finishing in 11th place in his age group. Mark McAllister was in the following heat and took 7th in his age group!
For the women, we had Carol Stark, who finished 5th in her age group, and Jeanna Summers who earned 4th! Great start to the day for Oregon!
In the 400 IM, arguably the most grueling and challenging event in swimming, Barry Fasbender (80 years old!) started off for the Oregon men and swam his way to a 2nd place finish! I (Matt Miller) also swam the 400 IM, placing 5th in my 40-44 age group.
We had three women swim the 400 IM: Elke Asleson, Jan Hildebrandt and Arlene Delmage. All three swam very, very well! Elke earned 6th place in her age group, Jan was 3rd and Arlene took 2nd place, only three seconds out of 1st. Great swims for all of them!
Only two days into the meet and Oregon has two individual national champions and four relay national champions. As a team, we’re swimming very well. Combined men and women team scores have Oregon in 4th place (out of 17 teams) in the Regional Club division by two points, just ahead of New England Masters. There are three regional teams with 20 swimmers (Oregon, New England and Colorado) and Michigan has 27 swimmers. Currently Oregon leads them all!!! It will be interesting to see how team placings shake out!
Huge day tomorrow and I suspect that I will not have time for a recap in the evening. So I’ll try to make some notes to get to it on Saturday along with that day’s recap.
I’ll end this very long post with a (somewhat) short blurb about how great Masters swimming is. I’ve attended at least one USMS National event every year since 2012. I really love the fact that it’s a group of people from all over the country and from very different backgrounds who come together for a week to have fun, encourage each other to live an active and healthy lifestyle, and to strengthen their friendships. I’ve made many, many good friends in the five short years I’ve been swimming. To me, nationals (and even local meets) really do feel like a big party with some great friends that I only occasionally get to see. I look forward to each event and expect that I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life. It’s so much fun! Today I finally met Steve Unruh, of whom I’ve heard a lot. Steve is an amazing swimmer who grew up in Kansas and swam with a friend of mine, Mike Scheffer, who recently moved from Kansas to Medford, Oregon, and swims with me at Superior Athletic Club. I snapped a photo with Steve and sent it to Mike. Hoping Mike joins the party with Steve and me sometime soon!
Day 3 of swimming at USMS Summer Nationals in Minneapolis, Minnesota
We had our team dinner tonight, which put us out pretty late. I’m too tired to make a full post right now, so I’ll just give some highlights and try to do more of an update tomorrow.
Huge congrats to Willard Lamb, who earned two more World Records today!!!:
50 back = 58.63
100 free = 1:53.86
Tomorrow Willard goes after the 50 free. He missed it by less than 1 second today leading off a relay, but a big part of that is because he caught the wave from the 2nd swimmers as they entered the water (most relays put one of their fastest swimmers first) and it slowed him down quite a bit. Tomorrow he’ll be swimming the 50 free as an individual event, so he won’t have to worry about that.
The Oregon men and (especially) women owned the 200 fly and 200 breast today! Of our 20 swimmers, we had 13 swims (some doubled in both events!) in those two events and ALL of them placed and scored points for the team. Oregon now sits in 4th place, a mere 19 points behind Wisconsin, with 45 swimmers, in the Regional Club standings! And we’re 85 points ahead of Michigan Masters, with 27 swimmers, in 5th place.
And our relays did exceptionally well again today. The same four women who won the medley relay last night got out-touched by 0.03 seconds in the 200 free relay. So close! It was exciting to watch!
And we had our team dinner tonight at Day Block Brewing in downtown Minneapolis. It was good food and great company!
More details tomorrow (hopefully)…
Day 3 (additional) and Day 4 of swimming at USMS Summer Nationals in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Oregon continues to swim exceptionally well here in Minnesota. While only 20 swimmers strong, as a team we moved past Wisconsin Masters today (with 45 swimmers!) to move into 3rd place in Regional Club standings at the end of Day 4! Wow!
Yesterday (Friday) I gave some highlights and will follow those up a bit. It goes without saying that since Willard is setting records with virtually every swim that he has won all of his events, making him a National Champion in every event he has swum. In addition to Willard, Oregon has had quite a number of other people earn National Champion (NC) honors, especially on the women’s side.
Yesterday in the 50 back, Joy Ward won her age group to become an NC. And Barry Fasbender and Arlene Delmage won their age groups in the 200 fly! In particular, Oregon owned the 200 fly and 200 breast events. It was really impressive to watch. I didn’t calculate how many points we earned as a team in those two events, but it was a TON! Lots of very high finishes for a team of only 20 people in those two events. And we even had some people do both of those events. Ouch!!!
Today (Saturday) Oregon continued to post extremely good swims. Willard took another shot at the 50 free and came up just a bit short again of the 47.43 world record, posting a time of 48.62. This was slightly slower than his 50 split leading off the relay last night at 48.34, which was a new national record.
Wink also swam the 200 backstroke. I submitted an official split request for his 100 back as well during that swim. He successfully swam his way to two new world records! At the 100 split, he was 2:18.07, besting the previous record of 2:22.83 previously held by Toshiji Sato of Japan. Wink swam on to crush the record for the 200 back with a time of 4:37.71. The previous record was 5:24.20 and was held by Bela Banki Horvath of Hungary. And for those of you good at math, you already know that Wink had a very evenly split swim, swimming the 2nd 100 in his 200 back at 2:19.64, which would have beaten the world record for the 100 back too! Wow!
And three more Oregonians won their age groups today, earning individual National Championship honors; Christine Mcclafferty in the 50 fly and Karen Andrus-Hughes and Joy Ward in the 200 back. Way to go ladies!!!
We also assembled a 320-359 (sum of the four swimmers’ ages) National Champion mixed medley relay that consisted of my Medford, Oregon, Superior Athletic Club teammates Alice and Barry Fasbender, along with Joy Ward and Willard Lamb.
And we had three other mixed medley relays that all placed (two of them very highly) and scored points! For a team of only 20 people, this is very impressive.
As for my personal report, I swam the 200 back today and finally had a swim that I was very happy with, earning 4th in my age group. It was only 1.2 seconds or so slower than I went at World Masters Games in April. Considering that the 200 back requires a lot of kicking and my legs feel like jelly from standing on the pool deck for nine hours each of the last few days, I was very pleasantly surprised with my swim. I very evenly split it, going out on a 1:19.90 and coming back on 1:20.19. Super happy with that!
I followed up the 200 back with a 50 back to start a 120-159 mixed medley relay with Kris Asleson, Christine Mcclafferty and Julie Peterson. I was the Achilles heel of the relay, as I am a liability when swimming any 50 (I can’t sprint!). I managed a 34.62 on my backstroke leg (a PR for me!). Kris went 32.01 on his breast, Christine a 31.25 on the fly and Julie finished with a 30.75 on her free. That was good enough to earn 4th place! I really appreciate them being willing to do the relay with me!
Tomorrow is the final day of the meet. I would love to see Oregon hold on to their 3rd place standing, but it’s going to be a tall order. We’ve already had a couple of people head back to Oregon today and we don’t have a lot of relays tomorrow. But we do have a lot of women left to swim the 100 back and 100 fly and we should have a very good showing in those two events. We also have quite a number of people in the 50 breast, in which we should do quite well. I guess we’ll see what happens!
And Willard is looking to lower his 100 back record tomorrow as well. Should be a great final day for Oregon!!!
Day 5 – Final day of swimming at USMS Summer Nationals in Minneapolis, Minnesota
So today was AWESOME! I guess that’s a bit of a spoiler, but who cares?! Oregon outperformed teams much larger to place 5th overall, and 4th as a regional team!!! Woohoo!!!
For sure, the highlight of the day for me (and I would guess most Oregon swimmers), was Willard (Wink) Lamb setting the 50 free World record. After two near misses, one leading off a men’s freestyle relay on Friday night and the second just yesterday in the individual 50 free event, Wink finally got the 50 free world record today for men aged 95-99 while leading off the ‘A’ 280-319 mixed freestyle relay. The previous record was 47.43 and held by George Corones of Australia. Wink CRUSHED it with a 45.71!!!
Big thanks to Arlene Delmage, who suggested that I put Willard in a tech suit for the swim. I always carry extras with me and I figured one of my spare suits would fit Wink quite well. I headed to the locker room with Wink to get the difficult job of getting a 95-year-old into a compression suit! It took Wink and me a few minutes to get him wiggled into it, but once he was in, he was visibly excited about wearing it. He was glowing like a 10-year-old at Christmas! He had to walk all the way upstairs to show it off to his family who were there supporting him. It was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen at a Masters meet. I’m smiling right now thinking about how excited he was to have it on. So, needless to say, it was one of the happiest moments for me at a Masters meet to see him get that record, after seeing how excited he was to have the tech suit on. I was jumping up and down and screaming my head off as he came to the wall on that relay.
I also watched Wink’s first two attempts at the 50 free record closely. In both cases, I was sure he had the record, but noticed that he started fading near the end of the swim, maybe 6 to 8 meters out from the wall. Most people can sprint all out for a 50, but most younger, faster people can finish a 50 in 30 seconds or less. A 45-second swim will require just a small bit of metering and pacing, particularly for someone who is a distance swimmer by nature (as Wink is). Today I suggested to him that he go out just a little bit easier (maybe 85%-90% instead of 100%) at the start and build into the swim. I told him once he gets to the middle of the pool, that’s when he should start going all out. He is amazingly coachable even at 95! He did take it out a bit easier and was able to finish strong today! I simply can’t get over what an amazing human being he is.
I asked Willard and Doug (Wink’s son) to stay until the end of the meet so that we could get a photo of the team with the banner. They agreed. And after the photo, I gave Wink the tech suit he wore for the World Record 50m swim and told him I’d be happy to help him into the suit any time he wanted! I’m thinking I might be helping him into the suit again in a few weeks at the Gil Young meet in late August.
In addition to Wink, Oregon swimmers had another great day in the pool. We came into the day in 3rd place in the Regional Team category, but I knew it would be a tall order to hold off Wisconsin Masters, who were in 4th and had 45 swimmers to our 20. We made a valiant effort, with lots of great swims! But in the end we came up just 66 points short. That’s super impressive for a squad of 20 swimmers to be so close to a team of 45.
Obviously, based on our points scored, Oregon had lots and lots of great swims today. Jeanna Summers was our sole competitor (for men and women) in the 200 free and started the day off with a great swim and an 8th place finish. The 100 back was next and Wink improved his world record from yesterday, lowering the mark to 2:11.19 from his 2:18.07 (split from his 200 back) yesterday. Keith Uebele swam his way to a 5th place finish in the men 55-59 (the most competitive age group at the meet), and I finished 4th for men 40-44. We had four women swim the 100 back and all four of them placed! Karen Andrus-Hughes and Joy Ward won their age groups, earning National Champion honors again!
In the men’s 50 breast, we had three swimmers and they earned two second places (Kris Asleson, men 25-29 & Allen Stark, men 65-59) and a 4th place, tying the Oregon record (Rick Howell, men 55-59). Janet Gettling, Alice Fasbender and Heather Wiley swam the 50 breast on the women’s side and earned 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, respectively. Wow!
Up next were the mixed freestyle relays. We were a few people short as some of the team left for Oregon yesterday or early this morning. So we could only put together 3 relays. Our two 280-319 mixed freestyle relays earned 3rd and 4th and our 200-239 relay, which included the mother/son combination of Kris and Elke Asleson, finished 14th.
In the 200 IM, Barry Fasbender won his age group yet again, while I finished 3rd in mine. This was probably my best swim of the meet, going just 6 one-hundredths of a second off my personal best. Considering the length of this meet, how little sleep I’ve gotten, the amount of time on my feet and how much work I’ve done in the coaching role, I was thrilled to death with that swim. I know that in large part it was due to the huge shot of adrenaline I got from watching Wink crush that 50 free record just a little before my swim.
The day finished up with the 100 fly, in which we had eight people swimming! Arlene Delmage and Christine Mcclafferty did it again, winning their age groups in the event and earning national champion honors. We also had Keith Uebele finish in 6th while setting a new Oregon record for men 55-59 (1:09.66), Barry Fasbender and Joy Ward in 2nd, Jan Hildebrandt and Janet Gettling in 3rd and Elke Asleson in 6th. Wow! What a way to finish the meet!
I had so much fun at this Nationals — more fun, in fact, than I’ve had at any other nationals. This group of Oregon swimmers was truly a joy to be around. I strengthened old friendships and made quite a number of new ones. This is one event I’ll have fond memories of for the rest of my life. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to serve as Oregon’s National Coach for this year’s USMS Summer Nationals. Thank you to all of the Oregon swimmers who made it a very fun time and swam so well, and to the Oregon board for trusting me to do the job!