Thar’s gold in them thar waters

Riverside Aquatics Complex

Riverside Aquatics Complex

Phil Simpson

The rush is on! Mother lode discovered in California! Is this 1848? No, our own SaddleBrooke swimmers staked this claim in Riverside, California, the site for this year’s United States Masters Swimming (USMS) Spring National Championship. This meet is held each April or May in a short course (25 meters or yards) venue. This year’s event was contested from April 27 through 30 at the handsome Riverside Aquatics Complex, located at Riverside City College, with this versatile facility configured as an 18-lane, 25-yard competition pool.

Following their successes this season, capped by a fifth consecutive Arizona State Short Course Yards Championship, 10 SaddleBrooke Masters Swim Team members, nine men and one woman, sought to extend their winning ways. They relished the challenge of competing against the best of the best, as USMS swimmers from across the United States as well as foreign shores converged on the Riverside Natatorium. Within the USMS structure, the SaddleBrooke team is a Regional Club and as such competes under the flag of the Arizona Masters Swim Club in national meets.

Each swimmer was eligible to compete in a maximum of six individual events but had to meet strict qualifying times to swim in greater than three. SaddleBrooke’s swimmers distinguished themselves yet again individually and as a team as they garnered 12 individual and five relay event medals. Bob Sears, the dean of the contingent at age 90, dominated his age group and led the gold rush with five National Champion finishes. Ken McKinney, with two golds and three silvers, Coach Doug Springer, with two golds and four silvers, Al Worth with one gold and four silvers and Gene Hildreth with one bronze, completed the impressive medal haul. In the relay competition, Gene earned two golds, Ken and Al two golds and two silvers, Doug two silvers and Terry Ludwig a bronze. SaddleBrooke registered a total team effort as Steve Willer, Craig Shaffer, Ke Wang and Karen Wang all recorded strong performances in their hotly contested age group competitions.

The Arizona Masters men’s team was the winner of the National Championship, scoring a total of 779 points. SaddleBrooke’s complement of nine men, in a remarkable achievement, was responsible for 355 of those points. And on a combined team basis, the Arizona Masters Swim Club finished second overall of 17 Regional Clubs, falling just 68 points shy of the championship.

Congratulations to Coach Doug and our SaddleBrooke Masters swimmers. You’ve done us proud. Your efforts will hopefully encourage others of the SaddleBrooke team to join you next May at the 2018 USMS Short Course National Championship in Indianapolis.