2023 Winter Masters Distance Invitational

Huddling on the pool deck (photo by Terry Heggy)

Jill Fritz (photo by Rodger Bivens)

Karin Bivens

On Feb. 25 and 26 the 7th annual Winter Masters Distance Invitational was again sponsored by the SaddleBrooke Swim Club. The meet was held at the newly renovated Oro Valley Aquatic Center’s Olympic-size pool. What was particularly challenging, however, was Mother Nature’s surprise winter storm that arrived on Sunday, dropping temperatures and bringing snow, rain, and wind!

Two events were held on the first day: the 1,000-yard and the 1,650-yard events. On the second day, the pool was set up for the 50-meter-long course, and swimmers competed in the 1,500-meter swim. Steam was coming off the pool due to the contrast of the cold, wintry, windy air with the 78-degree water temperature. Swimmers huddled in their swim coats trying to stay warm as they waited for their turn to swim. They immediately headed for the hot showers when they were finished with their swims. Timers, counters, volunteers, and officials tried to stay warm as they spent hours outside in those blustery, cold conditions.

SaddleBrooke swimmers trained for countless hours in preparation for this Winter Masters Distance Invitational under the guidance of head coach Terry Heggy and assistant coaches Mark Randall, Jay Selnick, Steve Truesdale, Larry John, and Lyn Moreno.

In all, 54 swimmers ranging in age from 22 to 83 competed in this challenging meet. The majority of swimmers were from Arizona, of which 13 were SaddleBrooke swimmers. The remainder of competitors came from California, Nevada, Illinois, and as far away as Maryland. The number of participants was down this year, likely due to our unseasonably cold winter.

Each swimmer who completed in all three events (nearly 2.5 miles total) received a unique Conquistador medal for their efforts. Of the 18 women and 10 men who received the Conquistador medal, 10 were SaddleBrooke swimmers: Susan Martin, Claire Guidas, Elizabeth Stewart, Lyn Moreno, Jill Fritz, Patricia Tewksbury, Terry Heggy, David McCleery, Craig Shaffer, and Phil Simpson. Special congratulations to Jill Fritz, Patricia Tewksbury, and Phil Simpson who not only swam all three events, but were the oldest swimmers in the meet! Swim caps off to you!

This meet awarded towels to those swimmers who swam all three events and had the fastest cumulative times in their age groups. Age groups for Masters swimmers are in five-year age increments. SaddleBrooke age group winners included Terry Heggy (M65-69), Lyn Moreno (F75-79), Craig Shaffer (M75-79), Jill Fritz (F80-84), and Phil Simpson (M80-84).

This meet could not have happened without the support of the SaddleBrooke race organizers (Larry John and Rome Yount), U.S. Masters Swimming officials/referees, starters, timers, lap counters, hospitality personnel, T-shirt distribution (most of whom were SaddleBrooke Swim Club members), and spouses and friends who volunteered their time. Kudos to everyone and bravo to the brave souls who were there in any capacity on Sunday!

Hope to see you next year about the same time, same place, but, hopefully, not the same weather!