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Masters Meet open to all



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March 21, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker

Review Intern

Young, old, recreational and enthusiast swimmers take note - an event catering to all swimmers will soon grace Lake Orion's High School swimming pool.

Swimmers young and old will gather from March 23 to March 25 to compete in the Michigan Swimming Masters State Meet in the Lake Orion High School Natatorium.

"This could be a recreational swimmer that wants to get into it, it could be a tri-athlete swimmer to swim in the meet, it could be someone who swam in high school and wants to compete again," said Amy Kuiper, Aquatics Director for the high school.

The meet is unique in that it requires no time or ability qualifications. To be able to compete, all swimmers must have a Michigan Masters card, which they pay annual dues for, have paid for the events they plan to compete in, and be out of high school.

Thus, despite the fact that the meet runs in much the same way as a regular swim meet, with events such as the mile, the 200 yard butterfly and the 50 yard breaststroke, the meet is open to a broader range of swimmers than most meets. It does not require any specific level of competitive ability, only that the swimmer is willing and able to compete and pay the fees.

The meet travels around the state, hosted at high schools and universities each year in different areas so that swimmers living in different areas have access to the meet. Lake Orion last hosted the meet in 2009.

The meet is run by Kuiper with the assistance of Liquid Lightning, an age group swim team based out of Lake Orion, which splits the costs, responsibilities and proceeds. The boys' and girls' varsity swim teams assist in running the meet by keeping times among other tasks.

Swimmers compete individually and in teams by age bracket for the relays. Awards are presented later on, with swimmers earning points for themselves and their age bracket by placing well in each event.

"It's a pretty big endeavor, as are all of the events," Kuiper said.

Nonetheless, the meet has been known to inspire. The last time Lake Orion hosted the meet, Kuiper recalled, there was an adult swimmer present who competed in the 1650 yard freestyle—that is, swimmers can choose what style of swimming to use over the long distance race.

This particular swimmer chose the butterfly, uncommon in a long distance race. He impressed one high school swimmer so deeply that the student went home and made him a first place medal for his 1650 yard butterfly out of cardboard and a blue ribbon, which he presented to the adult swimmer at the award ceremony.

Lake Orion will attempt to continue the inspiration and friendly competition this weekend.

"It's pretty inspiring to watch them, and it brings more people into Lake Orion and into our pool," Kuiper said.

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