(Editor’s note: You can be assured that any meet that is run by Bob Bruce will have some very creative twist to it. This one did not disappoint!)
On the pre-holiday Saturday afternoon of December 8, 2018, a collegial group of folks gathered underneath the Big Top at the Juniper Swim center in Bend to test their mettle in a short-course meters swim pentathlon. A swimming pentathlon is one in which swimmers race varying lengths of all four strokes plus an Individual Medley. Some chose the sprint events—50 meters each of Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly plus the 100 IM. Others opted for mid-distance—100s of each stroke and a 200 IM, while some extra-hardy folks went for the long game—200s plus a 400 IM. If that wasn’t quite enough for them, though, some added a 1500 M Free on top of it (actually anyone could). You didn’t have to swim all five events; swimmers could swim anywhere up to six events of their choosing—it is Masters, after all, and choice rules!
Five new pentathlon records were set that day in the somewhat-rarified air of 3,000+ feet elevation. Bob Bruce took advantage of his home field and set a new mark in the men’s 70-74 mid-distance pentathlon with an 8:58.73. Stacy Kiefer, in the women’s 40-44 did likewise in 8:01.12, and Ginger Pierson, swimming in the women’s 70-74 age group, set a new record 11:47.95. Taking things up a notch, two swimmers broke records in the long distance pentathlon—Cherie Touchette, W 55-59, swam her five races in 19:48.27 and Kermit Yensen followed up in the M 65-69 age group with a 19:58.63
To top off the day, each time a swimmer swam an event, a playing card was drawn and noted. Those who swam five events ended up with a virtual hand of five-card stud and the swimmer with the highest hand won a special prize of heady wine from an exclusive cellar in Bend. Several people were rewarded for their good fortune, including the author, who never wins anything! But everyone went home armed with fun memories and a feeling of swims well swum.