The Puget Sound Masters SCM & Pacific Northwest Zone Championships sponsored by our own PNA were a thing of beauty, showcasing the incredible talent our area and our team can turn out on a regular basis. We heard all day, both days, of World Records falling, but many of you may have no idea of the depth of talent the Puget Sound Masters has. The best way to understand is to look at the relays.
I have taken a close look at the averages of the last five years of Top Ten listings for the relays TWIMmers were invited to join at the meet, and a full 50% of those relays are likely to be Top Ten for the nation this year! Huge thanks go out to Coach April Cheadle for putting all these teams together. PSM looks great in the rankings year after year, and this year will be no exception. The numbers are amazingly steady, so don’t doubt my projections!
I’ll be highlighting relay swims for several TWIMmers as I document our outstanding achievements from the weekend. I emphasize the word ‘document’, because even if some of what follows may sound grandiose (COB Thomas Walker did encourage me to “shine things up” a good plenty), it’s just the facts. We are that good.
The best of the best among us at the Championships included five High Point Awards earned. Carl Haynie, Brad Jones, Tammy Koppelberger, Val Thompson, and Dan Underbrink all won their age group. Further, Kathy Pelham broke the PNA record in the 1500 freestyle by over 8 seconds!
We’ll lead off with Carl’s weekend. Not only did Carl walk away with the 55-59 age group’s High Point Award, winning all six of his individual events, he even set a PR in his 100 breaststroke (1:15.3). He also won the 200 breaststroke and 100 IM, and swept the backstroke events. Many of his swims will probably be Top Ten individually this year (he had 51 Top Ten Awards coming into this year!), but he tacked on some pretty certain award winners in his four relays (26 Top Ten relay swims).
Carl was a member of a 200-239 year team that went 1:46.4 in the 200 free relay. This will not only be Top Ten, but projects to be a strong contender for third place. He was on a 160-199 men’s medley that went 2:08.7, and has a chance at 10th, but the average to beat is 2:06.9. The 160-199 mixed 200 medley went 2:10.4 with Carl swimming breaststroke and Erin “McPoetry – in – Motion” McPeak hitting it in the butterfly. That’s better than five seconds faster than needed, and may reach the top five.
Carl and Erin had help from Kathy Pelham and Jim Mange in the 200-239 400 medley, where the all-TWIM team set a new PNA record by more than 20 seconds at 5:18.75. That should be top five(ish) for the year, unless there’s a frost/freeze advisory out for Hades.
Brad Jones took his High Point Award by winning all five of his events, the 50 and 100 fly, and a sweep of the IM’s. Brad, 52, is just flat out one of the finest swimmers in the nation, coming into this year with a combined 15 Top Ten listings and two All-American Awards for relays.
Val Thompson won the 65-69 division by completing the freestyle slate. Val won gold in the 50, 200, 400 and 800 meter races while settling for silver in the 100 and 1500. Her times were all very fast, and the precipitous drop in her PR’s drew sharp notice from those in the know.
Tammy Koppelberger comes next, also specializing in freestyle. Tammy took the 45-49 crown by winning the 50, 200 and 400 races. Tammy entered the year with five individual and two relay Top Ten Awards, as well as All-American status from a Long Distance Relay.
Dan Underbrink rounds out the cream of the crop, having gone Beast Mode through a punishing program to earn the 60-64 High Point Award. Dan won the 400 free, the 200 back, breaststroke and fly, and the 400 IM. His only non-medal swim was a fourth in the 50 fly. Not to be a slacker, Dan also pitched in on a men’s 280-319 800 free relay that is the most guaranteed to win Top Ten honors of all the swims. Not only does the 12:37 time beat the third place time for all of the past five years, there haven’t even been 10 teams to have swum it!
Dan was also on a men’s 400 free relay with Jim Mange that went a time that would have been Top Ten in four of the last five years, and beats the average pace by a good margin. Dan entered the year with five Top Ten relay listings.
Kathy Pelham, her record setting 1500 freestyle (20:35.2) already mentioned, also won her age group in the 800 free, took second in the 400 free, and third in the 100. In addition to being on the aforementioned PNA record-setting mixed medley, she also joined McPeak in a women’s 120-159 free relay that projects to be Top 5 or 6 for the nation this year. Kathy has 8 individual and 5 relay Top Ten Awards to date.
That free relay brings us to McPeak. Erin (with 11 individual and 2 relay Top Tens) won the 100 fly, 400 free and 400 IM, and took second in the 50 and 200 fly’s and third in the 100 IM. She’s also already been mentioned for anchoring the record setting mixed medley and joining Carl on the 200 mixed medley, but she also was asked into action on another pair of to-be-awarded relays, joining a PNA record setting women’s 120-159 400 free relay that projects to win fifth place in the standings, and joining with our own Jenny Ferries in a 200 medley that looks like a Top 3!
Speaking of Ferries (12 individual, 7 relay Top Tens), Jenny struck gold in the 50 and 100 breaststroke, and won silver in the 100 IM and 200 back. Her picture perfect breaststroke technique endured. It’s no wonder she graces the cover of the TWIM home page.
Holly Lickwala turned in another strong meet, winning the women’s 40-44 50 fly in 33.6! She was the silver medalist in the 50 and 200 back, and the 100 IM. She was third in the 200 breaststroke and 200 IM. Holly, who was on a Top Ten winning relay last year, was on three relays this year, taking one gold and two silver.
Our final female swimmer to be mentioned, Valerie Powell, earned four gold medals, winning the women’s 25-29 50 and 200 backstrokes, as well as the 200 free. In the 200 back, she had to maintain her composure and stay legal while contending with another swimmer in her lane! Valerie harvested gold again on a womens’ 160-199 medley relay.
For good measure, Valerie Powell also swam the 100 free, duking it out against Val Thompson (seen below). In fact these two tangled against each other in both the 100 and 200. I’m sorry to say this, Val, but youth prevailed each time 🙂
Jim Mange, the fourth member of the PNA record mixed 400 medley team, was also able to hook up with a men’s 200-239 800 free relay that set a new PNA standard at 9:51.38. That should put it close to 5th for the year, so Mange could be lucky enough to add his second and third Top Ten relay swims. Individually he captured his age group in the 50 back and breaststroke, as well as 100 back. He took silver in the 50 fly and 100 IM, and added a bronze in the 100 freestyle.
Father Tom Fritschen turned in his best times in no less than four individual events – more than that if you count his relay swims. He was golden in the 50, 100 and 1500 free, while earning silver in the 400 free and 200 back. Tom added another gold medal, swimming on a mixed 200 free relay.
Brent Barnes was busy all weekend as well, never fearing from swimming back to back races. Brent earned a pair of golds and bronzes on relays, joining winning 400 and 800 freestyle relays, and taking third in a 200 free and 200 mixed medley. Individually he reached the award stand with the bronze medal in the 200 freestyle.
Robert Brandt, perhaps more wisely only swam three events, and he medaled in two with outstanding times in the 50 (34.1) and 100 (1:17.4) freestyle. Brandt took second in the 50, and was the third place finisher in the 50 back.
Last, but far from least, our COB, Thomas Walker. The boss medaled twice, bronze in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM, and his value as an inspirational leader remains unmatched. “I love this team,” Walker said. “TWIMmers are the perfect melding of grace, poise, precision and power in the water, and grit and determination in life.”