international

New England Athletes Swim and Socialize at FINA Masters Worlds

Contributed by Mindy Williams, NELMSC Pool Sanctions Chair

New England Swimmers connecting between the warm-up pool and the competition pool on day 3. L to R: back: Kysa Crusco, Bill Davis, Mark Kiel, Len van Greuning, front: Emily Cook, Mindy Williams

New England Swimmers connecting between the warm-up pool and the competition pool on day 3. L to R: back: Kysa Crusco, Bill Davis, Mark Kiel, Len van Greuning, front: Emily Cook, Mindy Williams

GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA — There was so much to be impressed by at the FINA World Masters Championships in Gwangju, South Korea August 5-18, 2019. The venue was spectacular, featuring a 50-meter state-of-the-art competition pool, an adjacent diving well, and two on-site warm-up pools (both 50-meter), one indoor and one outdoor. The facility, the existing natatorium for Nambu University, was renovated for the FINA World Championships and held spectator seating for close to 10,000 people. Between races, there was the option to hit up the Marketplace: a row of food trucks, beer tents and vendors just around the corner from the pool.

Kysa Crusco celebrating her 800 Free after dominating her heat.

Kysa Crusco celebrating her 800 Free after dominating her heat.

Many of the Masters swimmers stayed at the “Athletes’ Village” accommodations, just a 10-minute shuttle ride from the pool and a neat way to immerse oneself in the spirit of the event. The Athletes’ Village consisted of a half-dozen brand new apartment buildings housing visiting athletes from all over the world, plus a dining hall, convenience stores, a recreation room, and several offices staffed with volunteers eager to help the foreigners with their transportation and site-seeing needs. There was an entertainment venue as well, and the event organizers had a nice menu of South Korean artistic performances for their visitors to enjoy each night. And to quench the thirst of all the accomplished Masters swimmers, there was a “vivid beer party” each night at the dining facility—simply a few taps of tasty Korean brews.

Mindy Williams showing some Team USA pride after the awards ceremony for the 400 IM.

Mindy Williams showing some Team USA pride after the awards ceremony for the 400 IM.

With just over 4,000 participating athletes, the impressive element of having 3,000+ attentive volunteers was very noticeable. There were smiling, welcoming faces at every turn, eager to help the athletes find their way and make their visit to Gwangju a memorable one. Like any World Championship, having the common ground of sports and health was an easy way to make new international friends. I found myself in the ready room before races with swimmers from all over the world who were friendly, chatty, and all the while focused on the races that loomed. After a few days of racing, the faces behind the blocks became more and more familiar, and contact info, swim caps, and selfies started to be exchanged with ease! 

There was wonderful camaraderie among the New England swimmers as well. We enjoyed many meals together and donned our Team USA t-shirts each morning at breakfast and onto the podium. We enjoyed cheering for one another and sharing stories of interesting travel and excursions. There was no lull in entertaining anecdotes about visiting South Korea. Training for Fukuota 2021 will commence as soon as the 13-hour jetlag subsides!

New England entourage having a beer while waiting for a cab to a traditional Korean BBQ joint. L to R: Kysa Crusco, Mark Kiel, Mindy Williams, Seth Grady, Bo Hatfield, Len van Greuning, Liz MacBride, and "No Seat Pete" - a new British friend

New England entourage having a beer while waiting for a cab to a traditional Korean BBQ joint. L to R: Kysa Crusco, Mark Kiel, Mindy Williams, Seth Grady, Bo Hatfield, Len van Greuning, Liz MacBride, and "No Seat Pete" - a new British friend

Sixteen Athletes Represent New England at the 2019 Canadian Masters Swimming Championships

Contributed by Sue Jensen, Officials Chair, NEM-CRM

IMG_6219.jpeg

MONTRÉAL, CANADA — The swimming pool in the complexe sportif Claude-Robillard, built for the 1976 Summer Olympics water polo competitions, was the setting for this year’s Canadian Masters Swimming Championships from May 24-26. A record 740 swimmers gathered together for the 40th anniversary of this annual meet. Swimmers came from all ten provinces of Canada and a handful of countries from around the world, including Australia, Bermuda, Great Britain, and Slovakia. Sixty swimmers hailed from the United States, with sixteen coming from New England.

The Americans swam well, winning 108 gold medals and placing second overall ahead of CAMO Natation, the provincial home team from Québec. The New England team included: Fiona Atkinson, Christina Baudis, Dave Bright, Guy Davis, Laura Delorey, Beth Estel, David Graham, Sue Jensen, Frankin Mansilla, Karen Mareb, Janet McDonough, Nic Ohman, Tom Phillips, Kathy Slifer, Marilyn Soraghan, and Mindy Williams

Screen Shot 2019-06-16 at 11.14.49 AM.png

Most of Team New England drove through Vermont and across the U.S.-Canada border, passports in hand, to attend the three-day French-speaking meet. Not only was this an occasion for New Englanders to practice their French, but with the New England short course meters season having ended in December at the WPI meet, it was a welcome out-of-season opportunity to compete in short course meters. 

Highlight swims by New Englanders include:

  • Dave Bright (age 66) won the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 backstroke and broke New England records in 400 freestyle, 400 IM, and 200 backstroke.

  • Mindy Williams (age 38) won the 1500 freestyle while setting a New England record and logging a personal best time by 21 seconds.

  • Karen Mareb (age 60) won gold in all her breaststroke events and the 100 freestyle.

  • Tom Phillips (age 45) won the 50 freestyle and swam a lifetime best time of 24.76.

  • Marilyn Soraghan and Laura Delorey made it to the finals of the age 50+ bonus 25-meter freestyle race (amid much fanfare!).

  • The quartet of Janet McDonough, Beth Estel, Sue Jensen, and Karen Mareb (age group 240-279) took first place and broke the New England record in both the 200 and 400 medley relays and are now ranked 2nd (400m) and 3rd (200m) on FINA’s World Masters Top Ten List.

The 41st Canadian Masters Championship will be held in Toronto, Ontario in June 2020.