Charlottesville, VA — July 26, 2010
For Christopher LaBianco, the words “thirty-nine” have never sounded sweeter. The 39-year old from Colorado won the U.S. Masters 2-Mile Cable Open Water National Championship in Charlottesville two weeks ago, breaking 40 minutes by the slimmest of margins: a hundredth of a second. His time of 39:59.99 shattered the national record for men 35-39 by more than a minute. He also earned the dubious distinction of becoming the oldest person to break 40 minutes and the youngest to match his age with his time for the 2-mile cable distance.
LaBianco, who was a distance swimmer at Auburn and captained the team in 1991-92, had recently claimed national championship wins in open water races in North Carolina and Colorado. He was pleased with his visit to Virginia.
“Cable races are the only open water races with records, and I had my eye on the 2-mile record for a while. The lake, the course, my fellow swimmers, and the race directors set the stage for a great day of racing. The results exceeded my expectations. For my first race in Virginia, I’m sold, and hope to be back next year. I couldn’t have asked for anything more!”
The record-breaking swims took place at Chris Greene Lake in Charlottesville at the 34th annual event hosted by Virginia Masters Swim Team. Athletes of all ages have been competing in the 2-mile cable swim on the second Saturday in July every year since 1977. Participants swim beside a rope that is stretched between two permanent wooden pylons. The pylons were surveyed last year and were found to be within an inch of a perfect quarter-mile distance. The cable is supported with small buoys spaced every five meters.
Defending champion Abby Nunn, 20, of Richmond, had to settle for second overall this year. Her time of 40:07.05 was the fastest time among the women, and also broke her own national record (women 18-24) from last year’s race by 32 seconds.
Other national records were established by Eney Jones, 49, who crushed the previous record of 45:43.35 with her time of 43:04.92, and Larry Wood, 56, who finished in 43:40.61 to slice 55 seconds off the men’s 55-59 record. Shirley Loftus-Charley, 58, competing in her 29th consecutive year at Chris Greene, continued to prove that practice makes perfect. Although she missed the national record by a mere 14 seconds for women 55-59, she did manage to match her time from 1990 (46:37.00) in winning her ninth national championship title in these waters.
In the men’s 85-89 division, Calvin Barnes and Richard Selden were resilient in the unusually warm temperatures. Barnes, 86, finished first in 1:26:27.21, and Selden, 88, was right behind in 1:27:32.40. They met and shook hands for the first time at the awards ceremony, where they received thundering applause for being recognized as the only two Americans in the 85+ age groups known to have raced in a 2-mile cable swim.
A complete list of new U.S. Masters Swimming national records established on July 10 is below:
|Abigail Nunn (F)||20||UNAT-VA||40:07.05||A. Nunn, 40:39.67, 2009|
|Eney Jones (F)||49||SYSM-FL||43:04.92||D. Ogier, 45:43.35, 2001|
|Christopher LaBianco (M)||39||BLU-FL||39:59.99||R. Allen, 41:11.49, 2002|
|Larry Wood (M)||56||TXLA-ST||43:40.61||M McCaffery, 44:35.55, 2008|