CT's McDonough among the best masters swimmers

September 16, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports

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Janet McDonough wears her competitive swimming medals at the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA in Cranberry Township on Thursday, June 23, 2016.

CRANBERRY TWP — Longtime Masters swimmer Janet McDonough has been one of the best in the country at her craft for some time.

She decided to try becoming the best in the world — ever — last year.

McDonough, 61, of Cranberry Township competes in the age 60-64 division of Masters swimming. She has won a bevy of gold medals through the years.

“I was swimming at the Pan-Am Games in Orlando (Fla.) in 2018 and connected with a couple of swim friends from the New England Master team,” McDonough said. “We got to talking about how fun it would be to compete in a relay together.”

The three women were top-ranked in the country in their respective 50-meter events — backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle — in the 60-64 age group.

When McDonough found out the two had a teammate a few years younger who was strong in the butterfly, “we had to take a shot at this,” she said.

They got together and competed at the Masters Canadian Nationals in Montreal in May 2019. Their goals were to break the FINA (Federation of International Aquatics) world records in the 200- and 400-meter medley relays for their age group.

The foursome's combined average age was just over 60, so they competed in the 240-279 age group for relays.

“We fell short of the records,” McDonough said. “We were two seconds off in the 200 medley and 6.5 seconds off in the 400. But we had a lot of fun.”

FINA's official numbers for 2019 came out earlier this year — with McDonough and her friends having the fastest times in the world that year in those relays.

She joined Beth Estel (age 63), Sue Jensen (59) and Karen Mareb (61) from the New England area to swim the 200 medley in 2 minutes, 21.99 seconds. That was 7.52 seconds faster than the runner-up foursome from France.

McDonough, Estel, Jensen and Mareb swam the 400 medley in 5 minutes, 17.97 seconds — 30.5 seconds faster than the runner-up quartet from Great Britain.

McDonough swam the backstroke leg of both relays.

“Both of our times were records for U.S. swimmers in our age division,” McDonough said. “We had a lot of fun doing that.”

McDonough has had a good time swimming on her own as well. Her times of 36.13 seconds in the 50 backstroke, 1 minute, 19.34 seconds in the 100 backstroke and 1:19.37 in the 100 individual medley all ranked second in the United States and third in FINA for 2019.

Her 100 breaststroke time of 1:31.65 ranked third in the U.S.

McDonough is a member of the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA Master swim team.

For more information on the team, call 724-452-9122.

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John Enrietto

John Enrietto

I graduated with a Journalism degree from Ohio University in 1979. I started at the Eagle on August 24, 1997. My awards include 2nd place in feature writing from Ohio Associated Press (while working for the Steubenville Herald-Star), media award from Lernerville Speedway and 3rd place in a Pennsylvania AP contest for story feature.