SaddleBrooke Swim Club wins state championship

SaddleBrooke Swim Club wins State Championship again.

SaddleBrooke Swim Club wins State Championship again.

Edward Thompson

The SaddleBrooke Swim Club, very proud of their very first US Masters Swimming (USMS) State Championship won last year, set their sights on a repeat performance in 2014. Last year’s championship was won in the Oro Valley Aquatics Center so SaddleBrooke had a definite home field advantage over the stronger Phoenix area swim clubs. However, the 2014 Championships were to be held in Mesa, home of the perennial state champions, the Mesa Aquatics Club. At first blush the chances of a SaddleBrooke repeat of their 2013 results seemed very unlikely.

Further, many of the team’s top competitors in 2013 were either travelling or otherwise unavailable for the year’s premier meet that is typically held during Spring Break. However, with high hopes, the team chartered a bus for two of the three days of competition hoping that our coach Doug Springer could convince (or coerce) some of the team members that rarely compete to attend the event and make up some of the points lost by the swimmers who could not swim.

The first day of competition started at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and included only one event, the grueling 1650 Yard Freestyle or the Swimmer’s Mile. Only six of the team’s 40 swimmers reluctantly signed up for the event, as many of the team’s distance swimmers were competing in a triathlon in Galveston, Texas. The event finally concluded well into the darkness and under the stadium lights. As Candy Armstrong exited the pool after a tough 1650, she only had two words, “Never again!” However, she laughed and soon followed with “At least until next year!”

Day two started early with a 6:30 a.m. bus trip from MountainView to Mesa. Although the team had entered a smaller number of participants than the previous year’s State Championship, each swimmer had entered a few more events. Further, due to Coach Springer’s recruiting efforts, there were some new but apprehensive faces on the bus trip to Mesa. The looks of apprehension slowly turned to joy as each team member’s performance contributed to a total team point total that looked insurmountable by the other teams at the end of the day.

The SaddleBrooke of team’s secret weapon was the organization its relay teams. Rather than registering for events weeks ahead as is done for the individual swim events, the relay teams are entered the day of the meet. By being more prepared than the other teams, SaddleBrooke organized and entered considerably more teams than any other of the swim clubs and was able to significantly increase their point lead. The only drawback of entering many relay teams was that many times a swimmer would exit the pool after one race and would need to immediately compete in the next race. To any observer the Relay portion of the competition resembled a Chinese Fire Drill.

The third day of competition continued to add to SaddleBrooke’s unexpected overall team lead. The team, with victory in hand, enjoyed the competition in some of the other younger age groups. The highlight of the Championships was the participation of Misty Hyman and Darian Townsend, both Olympic Gold Medalists. Misty won one of the most memorable Olympic events in history, beating the highly favored Australian Susan O’Neil in the 200 Butterfly in Sydney 2000. Darian Townsend was a three time Olympian from South Africa and trains at University of Arizona. What other sport allows Olympians and SaddleBrooke seniors to compete in the same venue?

At the end of three days of competition the final official results were announced: SaddleBrooke Masters 6769; Sun Devils Masters 3466; Mesa Masters 2432; Tucson Ford Aquatics 1948; Phoenix Swim Club 1485

In addition individual SaddleBrooke High Point winners were announced for their respective age groups: Daniel Vargas, Ke Wang, Doug Springer, Penny Stigers, Joan Pierce, Glenn Tewksbury, Glen Peterson, Catherine Vorassi and Jack Allison all received plaques for achieving the highest point totals in their age groups of ten year increments. SaddleBrooke dominated these awards from age groups 55 to 65 and upwards.