The Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina — known as “tournament town” due to its history of hosting a number of well-known championship sporting events — served as the venue for the 2016 USMS Spring Nationals which was held April 28 through May 1. This was the second time in the last 5 years that USMS Spring Nationals has been held at this facility, and after another well-organized and well-run event, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Nationals hosted here again. The facility was impressive, the pool fast, the seating sufficient — and pretty comfortable considering there were 1800 swimmers plus their ‘fan base’ — and the water was perfect racing temperature and crystalline.
There were 5 club OREG Swimmers, 4 men and 1 woman, who made the cross-country trip to compete: Hailey Bambusch (Multnomah Athletic Club), David Hathaway (Oregon Reign Masters), Matt Miller (Rogue Valley Masters), George Thayer (Central Oregon Masters) and Austin Turner (Corvallis Aquatic Team). Though only 5 swimmers strong, OREG was well represented, placing 10th out of 19 teams in the Regional Club category. All 5 Oregon swimmers individually placed in the top 10, meaning he or she scored points and earned a medal, in at least one of their events.
There were 40 individual and 15 relay national records set at the meet! So there was no shortage of ‘whitewater’ and fast swimming to watch. Perhaps the most impressive swim and record set during the meet was the 200 fly swim by 90 year-old Thomas Maine of St. Louis Area Masters. The 90 year-old Maine swam the 200 fly in 4:44.76!
Another notable swim, particularly for me because I was in the adjacent lane, was Allison Arnold’s record-breaking 1650 freestyle. Allison Arnold, swimming for The Olympic Club in the 18-24 age group, went a 17:27.91 to erase the last surviving women’s short course yards record from the 1980s. The previous record of 17:31.70, held by open water and distance freestyle star Karen Burton, had stood since 1987! I have to say that Allison looking amazing as she lapped me….both the first and the SECOND time! She was gracious enough to stay in the water until I finished and had a chance to congratulate her.
Our 5 OREG swimmers were able to post two new OMS records. Hailey Bambusch (women 25-29) lowered the record in the 50 free to 24.53. And David Hathaway (men 55-59) went 19:22.47 in the 1650 to take nearly 10 seconds off the previous record!
For David Hathaway, this meet was a homecoming of sorts. David grew up in North Carolina and did his age group swimming there. Also at the meet was David’s age group teammate and friend Chip Green. David had the opportunity to reconnect and swim with Chip and visit with Chip’s mom, who David hadn’t seen in over 30 years!
I would be remiss not to make mention of the controversial House Bill 2 (known as HB2) which was signed into law in March, 2016. The law is considered by many to be discriminatory and, in fact, the department of justice has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, citing that HB2 violates the US. Civil Rights Act and Title IX. There were quite a few swimmers who organized to quietly protest the law by wearing rainbow-colored bracelets and T-shirts that read: “H2O NOT HB2. Swim for love. Not hate.” And USMS issued the following statement before the meet:
“We’ve heard from several members of the USMS community who have concerns about legislation in North Carolina related to discrimination against gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.
USMS is an inclusive, non-discriminatory organization, which is reflected in our day-to-day operations and at USMS events and activities. As such, USMS, the City of Greensboro, our host committee, meet directors, and local volunteers and swimmers are eager to welcome all our event participants and visitors to the 2016 Nationwide USMS Spring Nationals.
We’re in this for the swimming, the fun, the fitness, and the camaraderie, and we’ll continue to provide a welcoming and respectful environment at all our events so that USMS members can pursue their passion for swimming.”
And indeed, by all accounts, USMS did not disappoint in providing everything they promised in their above statement at Spring Nationals this year!
Full OMS results from 2016 USMS Spring Nationals can be found here: http://swimoregon.org/results_pdfs/2015-2016/2016-Results-SCY-Nationals-Greensboro.pdf