A Royal Splash! SaddleBrooke swims to fifth straight title

Phil Simpson

Ever had the good fortune to be dealt an ace-high straight flush? On April 8 and 9, SaddleBrooke’s intrepid natators played their own version of poker’s rarest and strongest hand, as our DesertView Pool Sharks pulled off a Royal Splash, swimming to a stunning fifth consecutive U.S. Masters Arizona State Short Course Yards Championship.

The venue for this remarkable fete was the Westside YMCA in Goodyear, home to the Westside Silver Fins, a powerful, up-and-coming team coached by the amiable Bill Downey and featuring former Olympian Darian Townsend, who never fails to impress. On this occasion, however, the major share of the “Good Cheer in Goodyear” belonged to the pride of the Brooke as wave after wave of SaddleBrooke’s finest mounted the starting blocks to ply the coolish waters of this beautiful, Olympic distance facility, racking up point after point. When the waters had ceased to churn, for the second year in a row, SaddleBrooke had outpointed its competitors with a score greater than the combined totals of the first and second runners-up, earning the coveted, handsome championship banner that will be proudly displayed at their DesertView home.

Kudos to the host Silver Fins for a meet executed with precision and professionalism. Competitors were graced with warm temps and from the start our swimmers exuded a tension-free confidence as they appeared to sense that they would in short order allay any fears Coach Doug Springer might have harbored regarding complacency within his squad.

Honors and accolades were garnered by many as 55 SaddleBrooke swimmers contributed to what was truly a total team effort and victory. The results were highlighted by veterans and newcomers alike, with a number of the latter having rapidly catapulted themselves from the Let’s Swim Program to U.S. Masters Swimming ranks. As has become standard for this team, a number of our swimmers earned attractive monogrammed towels, having outpointed all competitors in their age groups in their eight individual event tally Earning this highly sought High Points Award for the women were Lyn Moreno, Corinna Goodman, Carol Honeywell and Gloria Tolaro and for the men were Carl Marriott, Jim Spiegel, Doug Springer, Jack Fritz and Bob Sears. Once again SaddleBrooke’s relay teams dominated the competition in the senior age groups as the recipe of quantity and quality proved to be a winning formula. In one of the meet’s outstanding performances, the (Over 75 Age Group) 400 yard medley relay team of Jill Fritz – backstroke, Ken McKinney – breaststroke, Corinna Goodman – butterfly and Al Worth – freestyle, shattered their own national record by more than 10 seconds.

While it is indeed very special to win a fifth consecutive title, a truly exceptional achievement in U.S. Masters swimming, the spirit and camaraderie of this collection of senior athletes is the real story of this team. Epitomizing this sense of oneness is Karin Bivens who committed herself to supporting the team just five days before scheduled knee surgery. Ignoring the effects of her injury, our own fabled, five-time Hawaiian Ironman Championship Triathlete, with a podium finish to her credit, swam a total of 16 events including the grueling 500, 1000 and 1650 yard freestyle races, placing first in her age group in the last two. Congratulations Karin. Your dedication and performance speak volumes about the heart of this club.

Once again our supporters were many. Nancy Springer and Debi Truesdale worked tirelessly as cat herders to ensure our getting to our appointed heats and lanes. Coach Jay Selnick was a jack of all trades, timing, herding and cheerleading. Spouses and friends offered much appreciated encouragement.

And so, Coach Doug, you created this juggernaut. Where do we go from here? We’re guessing and hoping that it’s more of the same.

Once again, congratulations  SaddleBrooke!