Swimming: 400m world record just out of reach

Dunedin swimmer Steve Prescott competes at Moana Pool earlier in the week. Prescott was three one...
Dunedin swimmer Steve Prescott competes at Moana Pool earlier in the week. Prescott was three one-hundredths of a second short of the men's aged 55 to 59 400m world freestyle record on Thursday night. Photo by Jane Dawber.
teve Prescott was just centimetres away from a world record on the final night of swimming at Moana Pool.

Prescott (56) was just three one-hundredths of a second short of the record when he won the men's aged 55 to 59 400m freestyle in 4min 24.95sec.

The record was set by Jim McConnachie (United States) in 1994.

The Dunedin City Council aquatic services manager was the outstanding competitor in swimming at the New Zealand Masters Games this week.

He is a dedicated trainer and epitomises the different approach to ageing that the development of the Masters Games has fostered.

Prescott broke five New Zealand Masters records in individual events and was in two record-breaking Dunedin relay teams.

He has responded to the tough discipline of former Ukraine junior team coach Gennadiy Labara and has reaped the benefits.

An indication of the class that Prescott has brought to swimming in Otago was shown by his time in the 400m freestyle.

Forty-five years ago, in 1965, he would have smashed the New Zealand senior men's open record.

It was held at that time by 18-year old Robert Walker at 4min 31sec.

The other individual records broken by Prescott at the Masters Games were: 200m individual medley (2min 31.30sec), 100m freestyle (58.45sec), 200m butterfly (2min 31.41sec) and 100m butterfly (1min 05.84sec).

He was also a member of two relay teams from the Dunedin Swimming Masters Club in the 4 x 50m medley relay and the 4 x 50 freestyle relay.

Hap's Boys smashed the 1994 freestyle record by 16 seconds on the final night of swimming.

The team of Stephen Clarke, Forbes Sonntag, Mark Johnson and Prescott swam 2min 01.13sec in the men's aged 240 to 279 years.

Relay records are set by the cumulative ages of the team.

There was a buzz about Moana Pool this week with 19 New Zealand Masters records broken.

The other big record-breaker was Stephanie Laughton (Dunedin) in the women's aged 20 to 24 200m individual medley (2min 31.88sec), 100m breaststroke (1min 18.92sec), 100m individual medley (1min 10.08sec), 200m breaststroke (2min 46.40sec) and 50m breaststroke (35.6sec).

Mount Manganui's Sidney Salek (80) broke three records in the men's aged 80 to 84 grade: 200m butterfly (5min 52.42sec), 100m backstroke (2min 09.27sec) and 400m freestyle (7min 48.53sec).

Other New Zealand records went to Phil Krueger (Napier) in the men's aged 60 to 64 50m butterfly (32.79sec) and 200m breaststroke (3min 12sec), Ian Gunthorp (North Shore) the men's aged 60 to 64 100m freestyle (1min 05.03sec) and Lenore Sonntag (Dunedin) in the women's aged 70 to 74 200m butterfly (4min 47.25sec).

Talented open water swimmer Robert Johnston (Dunedin) returned to pool swimming after a two year lay-off to win four medals in the men's aged 45 to 49 grade: gold in the 200m freestyle (3min 15.18sec), silver in the 400m freestyle (6min 43.21sec) and 100m backstroke (1min 42.98sec) and bronze in the 100m freestyle (1min 27sec).


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