In the sport of swimming, records fall. They are, as the saying goes, “meant to be broken.” But some records linger for years, even decades, making them even more impressive as their legacy grows with time.
There are several FINA Masters World Records that have stood the test of time — 10 records that are still held from the 20th Century. That is no small feat considering how the sport has evolved in the 21st Century.
Karlyn Pipes holds several FINA Masters World Records, including five that are more than 20 years old.
She holds the long-course meters world records in the 35-39 age group in three events, all set in 1997.
On Aug. 10, 1997, she set the record in the 200 backstroke (2:18.20), 200 butterfly (2:20.21) and the 400 freestyle (4:26.17).
In short-course meters, Pipes holds two more marks. On Dec. 14, 1997, she broke the SCM world record in the 400 IM (4:52) for the 35-39 age group. Two years later, she broke the record in the same age group for the 400 free (4:22.56).
She also still holds 65 U.S. Masters records.
Pipes was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2015.
In SCM, Sheila Taormina still holds multiple FINA Masters World Records from pre-2000.
Taormina broke two records on March 31, 1996, that still stand. She set the 25-29 mark in the 800 free (8:51.18) and the 1500 free record (16:36.07).
She then went on to swim at the Atlanta Olympics.
She also holds four U.S. Masters records.
Records are impressive no matter what age group, but there is something special about the 100-104 age group.
Very few people live that long to begin with, let alone stay active enough to swim at all.
Tom Lane lived more than a century and continued to swim at a high level. He set FINA World Records in the 100 and 200 backstrokes in 1994. On Aug. 9, 1994, he swam the 100 back in 4:13.84 and the 200 back in 9:04.31.
Lane also holds 11 U.S. Masters records — all set when he was older than 100.
In 1998, Bill Specht broke the 200 butterfly SCM world record, swimming in 2:02.97 on Oct. 11, 1998.
Since 1988, Bill Specht has competed in four age groups beginning in the 30 through 34 group and broken 30 FINA Masters World Records within the backstroke, butterfly and freestyle events. In 1998, he was named the top Masters Swimmer of the year.
He was a ISHOF Masters honoree in 2006.
There is one more FINA World Record from the 1990s that still stands.
On June 29, 1997, Alex Kostich set the record in the 800 free in LCM. He set the mark in the 25-29 age group, the youngest age group that still has a Masters world record set before 2000.
Oldest U.S. record
There are still 66 U.S. Masters Records set prior to 2000 that still stand, though many come from a handful of swimmers who have multiple records, even across multiple age groups.
Most of those records were set in the 1990s, but there is still one record that was set even before then.
In 1989, Sara Shand set the 25-29 age group U.S. Masters record in the 400 IM, swimming the race in 5:06.34.
Check out the full list of USMS records here.
Learn more about swimming at the Masters Games.