Contributed by Jen Downing, 15-year member of Charles River (Cambridge) Masters
RIVERSIDE, CA -- New England Masters (NEM) was represented at the 2017 Nationwide USMS Spring Nationals from April 27-30 by a small but energetic contingent of athletes. This was my 11th short course nationals and by far the most fun! I think because there were only twenty of us, we really got to know one another and made sure to cheer each other on. I think other teams were actually jealous of how much noise we made behind the lanes! Many thanks to Tracy Grilli for working her magic with the relays, to Karin Stokes for ordering our awesome team shirts, and to Sue Jensen for organizing a delicious team dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. The Riverside complex was rather impressive, with two 10-lane competition pools and two 6-lane warm-up pools, plus a diving well. And it was hot! Not much shade for spectators, but if you'll remember how Boston was in April, it was really nice to enjoy the sunshine and swim outside.
NEM finished 5th overall in the Regional Club division behind Colorado, Arizona, Puget Sound, and Wisconsin. Our very own Diann Uustal broke 6 USMS records as a 70-year-old in the 50, 100, and 200 backstrokes, 50 freestyle, 50 butterfly, and 100 IM. Congrats, Diann! Four of our NEM relays finished in the Top 10 in their age brackets, including the W 35+ 200 freestyle and 200 medley, and the W 55+ 200 freestyle and 200 medley. We had teammates returning from injury, trying new events for the first time, swimming best times, and more than anything, having fun! If you've never participated in Nationals before, it's a terrific opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones, compete in fast venues across the country, and celebrate our sport with like-minded people. You're even allowed to swim up to three events without making the qualifying time, so don't let qualifying discourage you from taking the plunge. Next year's meet is at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, May 11-13, 2018. Hope to see you there!