Pan American Masters Championships Recap

Contributed by Sue Jensen, CRM & NE LMSC Secretary

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ORLANDO, FL -- The 2018 Union Americana de Natacion (UANA) Pan American Masters Championships were held from July 25 to August 8 at the YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando, Florida. More than 2,200 athletes participated across five disciplines -- swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, and open water swimming -- making it the largest UANA Pan American Masters Championships ever held. Over 1,700 pool swimmers hailed from 30 swimming federations (most from North and South America) and broke 65 FINA world records, 136 UANA records, and 38 USMS national records in long-course meters events.

 Fred Schlicher

Fred Schlicher

New England swimming legend Fred Schlicher, who recently turned 70, set world records in the 200 free and 200 fly. He also set UANA records in the 50 back and 200 back. Two weeks earlier, at the 2018 South Central Zone LCM Championship meet in Texas, Fred bested the world record in the 100 fly, as well and set national records in the 200 IM and 400 IM. Congratulations Fred. You are an inspiration to all masters swimmers!

New Englanders who attended reported that the meet was friendly and very well-run even though the hot, humid weather made for a challenging meet environment. With events spread over seven days and no New England relays able to be formed, there was a shortage of team camaraderie.

Here are reflections from some of the NE-LMSC swimmers who attended:

Szekely, Mareb, and Estel

Marian Coakley (NEM), 81, who describes herself as a "very young 80 year old," was pleasantly surprised with her 3rd, 4th and 5th place finishes usually in a group of eight. This was Marian's first meet in several years because of a couple of hip replacements. Marian goes to the pool every day of the year - but for an hour of power water walking (for rehab), not swimming. She decided to go to the meet because it was close to where she now lives in Florida. "People were really friendly, and I was glad to be a part of it." If all goes well, Marian plans to attend both Spring and Summer USMS Nationals in 2019. It is great to be back "in the swim again."

Harvey Ottinger (NEM-BASS), 61, had just returned to competitive swimming after a 40-year layoff. Harvey swam the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke, placing 7th in the 50 and 100 and 8th in the 200 while improving on all of his seed times by a good amount. Harvey commented that, "Orlando was great and the venue was very nice. Hotels were abundant and very reasonable. Food was everywhere and fun. Everyone was treated very well, and I made many new friends. Quite honestly, I had a complete blast."

 Crusco, Mareb, and Estel sporting some serious hardware!

Crusco, Mareb, and Estel sporting some serious hardware!

Beth Estel (NEM-GSP), 62, had a great meet including setting new UANA records in the 50 and 100 breast. "I was very happy with my results," said Beth. "My breaststroke friends aged up and showed up, so that made it challenging and exciting, even one from the UK. Peggy McDonnell, another breaststroker - not competing - came to cheer me on. Beth did comment on the lack of team camaraderie from New England during the day, however, felt she had great quality times with her swim buds (Karen MarebIldi Szekely, and Kysa Crusco and family), in the evening, going out to dinner and sightseeing, including a dinner at Disney, and at a Greek restaurant where Karen danced with the belly dancer.

Maria Stotts (NEM), 36, swam three pool events plus the 1.5k open water race in Daytona Beach. This was her first international meet ever, and also her first time in Florida. She found the meet very organized, and enjoyed meeting participants from around the world. The aquatic center was located in an area with plenty of things to do nearby - restaurants, shops, aquarium, wax museum, giant observation wheel and a 450-foot swing ride. She enjoyed the trip very much and hopes to go to either Mesa, Arizona or Mission Viejo, California next year for Spring and Summer Nationals.

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Dave Bright (NEM), 65, competed in his second Pan Am Masters meet after attending the one in Sarasota four years ago. "Orlando may not have been my first choice for a location. It was hot and humid, and there were lots of tourists and traffic gridlock, but it had what we needed for the meet, and I thought things went well. One of the things that happens in these big meets is that we tend to get to the pool, warm-up, swim our race and then leave. Sticking around to watch your teammates may mean a 4-hour wait in the bleachers. So, there is not as much team unity as we see at a regional or national meets. Personally, I felt the absence of having access to any 50-meter pools to train in here in Maine." Dave swam four events - one per day and then came back home at the halfway point of the meet. He was very happy with his finishes - 3rd in the 800 free, 2nd in the 400 IM, 3rd in the 200 back, and 7th in the 100 back. Both the 200 back and 400 IM were New England records! Hopefully some will hold up for US & FINA Top Tens.

CONGRATULATIONS to all swimmers from New England.

Mark your calendars for the the next Pan American Masters Championship meet, to be held in Medellin, Colombia in Summer 2020. The Colombian Swimming Federation will host this meet at the Atanasio Girardot Sports Complex, a world class aquatics facility with two long-course competition pools and six warm-up/warm-down pools. The open water event is tentatively scheduled be held in Guatupe, a wonderful small town north of Medellin. Going forward, UANA will host the Pan American Masters Championships on even-numbered years and FINA will host the World Masters Swimming Championships on odd-numbered years.