Master’s swimming event gets locals ready for Olympic events |

Master’s swimming event gets locals ready for Olympic events

Swimmer Liz Roble races across the lap pool at the Old Town Hot Springs Thursday on her way to winning her race as part of a special Master's Swim Program swim meet.
John F. Russell

— The opening ceremonies for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics will take place tonight in Maracana Stadium, but locally, the Olympic spirit was already running high Thursday afternoon during the local Master Swim program.

A group of 12 dedicated swimmers took part in the Old Town Hot Springs version of the Olympic swimming events, including the 50-yard back, 50-yard fly, 100-yard intermediate medley, 50-yard butterfly, 50-yard breast stroke, 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard medley and 200-yard medley relay.

“We just wanted to have a little fun and tie the Olympics into our Master’s Swimming Program,” Master’s coach Patti Worsley said. “This is the first time we have done it so it was pretty casual.”

The swimmers signed up for the events that the were hoping to compete in and were placed in heats of three or four swimmers. Winners got a beaded neckless in gold, silver and “bronze”.

“The beads were my favorite part of the event,” said Ron Cummins who trains regularly at the pool. He also took home a medal for “best sportsmanship.”

“This is a lot of fun, we swim masters because we enjoy it,” Cummins said. “I’m pretty sure I got it because I yell a lot. I got a big mouth, and I like to use it to cheer on the other racers.”

Winners of the first-ever Old Town Hot Springs “Almost” Rio Games included Audrey Early who won the 50-yard back, Bob Yokota who won the 50-yard butterfly and Liz Roble stole the show in the 200-yard freestyle.

The 100-yard individual medley was one of the most popular events of the day with three heats going head-to-head. Bantle Gibbs topped the field in the first heat, Matt Stensland topped heat No. 2 and Ron Cummins won heat No. 3. There was also three heats in the 50-yard freestyle with Brad Piske, Rob Schwartz and Cummings winning their respective heats. Audrey Early and Bob Yokota topped their heats in the 50-yard breast stroke, as well.

But at the end of the races nearly every swimmer had found some success in their heats, and the idea of getting pumped up for the start of the Olympic Games was not lost.

“I think it was awesome,” said swimmer Marietta Roberts. “When Patti our coach said she was going to do something different for masters I started to get a little excited. I think is was great for me because I like to be pushed by other people. For me I think it was great. The group that comes here is amazing. We help each other and push each other every week.”

The Master’s Swim Program meets from noon to 1 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for regular training sessions. The idea of breaking up those sessions with something that highlighted the Olympic Games was something that Worlsey, whose son Blake swam for Canada at the 2014 Games in London, just could not pass up.

Liz Roble, who grew up swimming and competed in college. She joined the Master’s Program this summer after moving to Steamboat last December as a way to stay involved with the sport. She said she enjoyed Thursday’s swim, but admits that she was already excited to watch the swimming events at this year’s Olympics before Thursday’s events.

“It’s a lot of fun to just race and to connect with the people who are in the master’s program,” Roble said. “I wanted to connect with other people in the community when I joined, and these types are great for meeting new people.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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