Swimming with floating and bobbing pumpkins provided the highlight for the final relay at the Tuolumne Aquatic Masters annual Pumpkin Mini Meet on Saturday, October 28. With minimal rules, the swimmers tried various options in transporting their pumpkin to their waiting teammate at the other end. With furious swimming, the four teams finished in a close race.
Racing in their home pool at Sonora Sport and Fitness, the team competed in events ranging from 50 yard sprints to the distance 400 IM. The eighteen swimmers ranged in age from 42 to 96. Over 20 supportive teammates cheered the swimmers on and helped with timing and recording results.
The team’s oldest swimmer, Sara Jane Clouse, 96, swam three 50 yard events plus the 100 free. She competed in the 100 free for the first time. Her distance swim was a new team record in the 95-99 age division.
Joining Clouse with new team records were Susan White, 72 in the 200 fly and Linda Tangenberg, 42 in the 200 back. White competes in the 70-74 and Tangenberg in the 40-44. Tangenberg competed in her first meet.
Impressive time improvements in a single event were achieved by Penny Methot, 61 with a 21 second drop in the 200 free, Martha Buthmann, 65, 20 seconds in the 100 back and Susan Loyd, 58 with 19 seconds in the 400 IM.
Four women tackled the grueling 400 IM which includes a 100 each of the fly, back, breast and free. There was a 50 year age difference swimmers in the 400 IM heat, which was composed of Karen Kessel, 68, Loyd, Margott Weltin, 56 and Lisa Hieb-Stock, 37. Weltin swam the event for the first time.
New best times were set by Buthmann with three, Loyd and Hieb-Stock with two and Karen Aldridge, 42, Methot, and Weltin each had one best.
With closely seeded heats several events provided finishes within seconds of each other. The 50 free heats were the most exciting. Finishing just over a second apart was the final heat with Tangenberg, Hieb-Stock, Matt Gass, 60 and Aldridge. The swimmers enjoyed having TCAM coaches, Tangenberg and Aldridge compete in the meet.
Swimming both 200 yard distance and sprints with fast times included Toni Wivell, 82, Connie Birdsall, 72, Bev Davis, 69, George Kirk, 67, Gary Johnson, 66, Corrie Alexander, 51, and Angel Woodall, 42. Kirk and Alexander joined Tangenberg in making their first meet debut.
The team swims year round with the current focus on the upcoming Brute Swims in November and the 400 Kick in December. For the Brute Swims, each swimmer swims a fly, IM and distance free event.