Masters Swimming is a Journey
Welcome to the Georgia Masters Local Masters Swim Committee (LMSC) of the United States Masters Swimming (USMS). We exist to promote fitness and health in adults by offering and supporting Masters Swimming programs throughout the state of Georgia.
Remembering Sally Newell
Thirteen individual All-American Honors, 479 individual Top Ten swims, Ten All-American
Relay Honors, and 97 Relay Top Ten swims. Those numbers speak for themselves. Sally Newell
has achieved all of these in the past 26 years!
Oh, and by the way, did we mention Sally’s 86 North Carolina and 27 Georgia State Records? Ask her about any of these numbers, though, and she wouldn’t have a clue. I had to dig them up myself,
because Sally is too humble to keep track. She did, however, admit to being honored six times with the “Outstanding Female Swimmer of the Year” award by North Carolina Masters Swimming. In addition, she was proud to tell me she was honored by the American Cancer Society with a plaque in 1995, “For many years of outstanding contributions to the Swim for Cancer program.” Her contributions included raising $4500 – $5,000 each of the ten years she swam 5-6 miles for the annual fundraiser.
There is only one swim statistic number this accomplished swimmer knows for sure:
1. It represents the World Record she earned at the age of 59, while swimming the breaststroke leg on a 200 short course meters relay (240-279 age group), along with three of her North Carolina Masters teammates. The year was 1996, just four years after Sally took up swimming and joined Masters; and, eight years after surviving breast cancer. To this day, that World Record swim, (a blazing 43.66 for 50 meters of breaststroke!), was the highlight of her Masters Swimming career.
Sally doesn’t take personal credit, though. Instead, she gives it all to her relay teammates:
Jeannie Mitchell (backstroke), John Korthecer (butterfly), and the late Dick Webber (freestyle).
That’s just how Sally rolls. About her own swimming, she says quite modestly, “I don’t see
myself as being that good… I just don’t think about being that good, even if I am first in the nation in
Sally is good, though, and she got that way by attending Terry Laughlin’s Total Immersion Swim
Camp to learn proper stroke technique for the four strokes. She did this shortly after starting to swim
again, when Sally joined her daughter’s previous swim partner, Nancy Clark, for regular swim
workouts. Since her only other previous coached swimming was with a club during her childhood
summers, Sally wanted to make sure to learn the strokes correctly.
Not long after, Nancy asked her new swim partner to join her for a competition. “She was going to go
to the Charlotte meet, and she suggested that I go. Oh my gosh, was I nervous! I swam breaststroke,
and it was funny. I have a male friend who said, ‘You should not be allowed to swim breaststroke
because you only have one breast!’ (referring to her mastectomy following breast cancer).
Breaststroke became my favorite event—the 50 breaststroke,” Sally laughed. At the time, Sally and her husband lived in Greensboro, North Carolina. When her husband became seriously ill with cancer, they decided to move to Atlanta to be closer to their daughter as well as excellent medical care.
Sally started swimming at the Dynamo pool following the move; however, until this past
September, she only swam there in the summer during long course season, opting to swim at the
YMCA during the winter months. “My husband died three years ago, and I continued swimming at
the Y, but I just wasn’t into competing. Just a year ago, I decided I would compete again… I have
four children, and they were very happy that I went back to competing. My husband wasn’t an athletic
man, but he really put me on a pedestal when I would go to these swim meets. He was very proud
This past short course season, she decided to swim exclusively at Dynamo, under the coaching of
Maria Thrash. “This is the first time I have stayed with it year-round. I need the discipline; I just
wouldn’t be doing it on my own. Maria’s really good for me, and I said to her once when I got out
of practice, ‘I wouldn’t have done that if you weren’t here.’ She said, ‘That’s right; that’s why
you swim on a team.’ I am really benefiting from it. I really look forward to going swimming now,
because I have a coach on deck. And, I think she appreciates my success. This past year in short
course, I have had a fabulous year, and I owe it to Maria Thrash. I really do.”
Sally continued, “I don’t think at my age you’re going to get faster. But I tell you what. since I
started swimming at Dynamo with Maria Thrash as my swim coach, every once in a while, she’ll say
something to me and I’ll think to myself, ‘That’s what I am paying for. Just these little suggestions
on her part that I never would have thought of swimming on my own. This past year, it has been
amazing for me. My times have really been good, and I owe it to her—and, I got a new suit, too.”
Sally swims at Dynamo on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, during lunch-time and averages
2,500 yards per workout. She especially enjoys the creative sets that Maria assigns. “You just don’t
think of those things on your own, but of course, I’m finding that it’s up to you to make those sets
work. She doesn’t know if you’re making your intervals; and, I really don’t pay attention to the
intervals, because I think an eighty-year-old can write her own rules!” Sally added with her usual
Although Sally’s best stroke is breaststroke, she said, “I have started swimming distance. I am
finding that I don’t do very well in the 50 free, but this last summer, I was first in the 400 free.
Distance doesn’t intimidate me anymore. I used to do the 200IM and 100 IM, but I’m having issues
with a shoulder. I also do well in the 200 back. I do well in the 200, because most of my
competition is starting to get tired, and I’m not getting tired. It’s easy for me to speed it up for the
Now that Sally is back to competing again, you will find her thoroughly enjoying racing at her
favorite venues: Georgia Tech, UGA, Auburn, Columbia (South Carolina), and at Dynamo, of
course! Nationals may be in her future, again, too. “I like going to Nationals and seeing friends from
across the country that I don’t normally don’t get to see. But, I get nervous leading up to the event.
I’ll get nervous leading up to the one-day meet at UGA, and I have no competition in my age group.
But, you’re racing the clock,” she explained. “I enjoy being part of Masters, and I’m glad that I
returned to it. I think that’s it’s really good for your body, and I just can’t imagine my life without
swimming. I really do love to swim,” she said, adding about competition, “If I wasn’t good, I
don’t think I would want to do it. I can’t see going to a swim meet and not having some success. It
would be like going to a tennis match and losing all the time. I just don’t know what keeps some
people going. I don’t know why I’m so good. Maybe I’m just a natural, I don’t know.”
If Sally is a natural, she is also either a natural (very!) cold water swimmer—or, just crazy! As
she explained, “I have a daughter who lives in Ireland, and this will be the third year I go over and
swim the Liffey River that runs through the middle of Dublin. (In 2016), I was the oldest participant.”
Why? The water is 39 degrees, wetsuits are not allowed, and the race is 2,200 meters down the
“I will push off from the steps, and I have to swim at least ten strokes fast before I can come up and
get a breath,” she explained about dealing with the shock. “Men and women swim separately; the
men go first. Before each group swims, they’ll sing this song, ‘Molly Malone.’
“I went over one time to watch Amy do it, and then I said I’m going to do it next year. I’ve done it
twice, and I’m going to go back this year and do it. It’s fun!”
“People say to me, ‘I want to be like you when I grow up!’” Sally said when I conveyed that exact
sentiment at the end of our interview. Naturally, I wanted to know what her secrets to success were.
Sally’s reply? “You know Elaine, I don’t have any secrets. Just get out there and do it!”
Sally, if anybody in Georgia is going to break Anne Dunivin’s 100-104 age group records, it will
Reprinted from the October 2018 Georgia Masters Newsletter
Written by Elaine Krugman
Rest in Peace Sally
You will be missed
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Become a Masters Coach
Do you love sharing knowledge, teaching others, and giving back to the sport you love? Do you get excited when a teammate masters a new technique? Do you always seem to be the leader of your workout group? Are you the one who writes the workouts? If yes, you might make a good Masters coach.
U.S. Masters Swimming is hosting its Levels 1 and 2 Coach Certification Course
*******New USMS Insurance Changes*******
A new workout insurance requirement has been put into effect by our insurance carrier. Effective
immediately, for a workout to be covered by USMS insurance, the person supervising the workout must be
a USMS member. In the past, a USA Swimming certified coach was allowed to supervise the workouts,
even if the USA Swimming certified coach was not a USMS member. This is no longer true; now if the
person supervising the workout is a USA Swimming certified coach, he or she must also be a USMS
Daily Workouts and Drills
Prepared by 7 different Top USMS Coaches
•Basic Training for New Swimmers
•Stroke and IM Workouts
•Open Water Workouts
•High Intensity Training (sprints)
•High Volume Workouts (mega yardage)
•Workouts for Expectant Mothers
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