Serena Johnson made her first trip to a U.S. Masters Swimming national meet count.
The Vancouver woman won the 1,000-yard freestyle race in the 35-39 age division to bring home a gold medal from the 2014 Nationwide U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championships, which took place May 1-4 in Santa Clara, Calif.
The national title came in one of 10 races the 36-year-old swam at the meet. Her time of 11 minutes, 58.82 seconds was an improvement of 49 seconds from her seed time. She touched the wall less than a second before runner up Eve Maidenberg of Oakland, Calif.
Johnson said her plan was to swim each 100 yards at a 1:15 pace.
"But I went out way too fast, in my typical style," Johnson said.
She covered the first 100 in 1:07, the next in 1:09 and the third in 1:11. She could see the scoreboard, and hear the encouragement of a coach, Tim Waud.
Johnson said she was a sprint specialist as a high school swimmer in Hawaii. Her favorite stroke is the backstroke. She had never entered a race longer than 800 yards, so winning a national title in the 1,000 free was a bit of a surprise.
She said she competed at nationals because the meet was on the West Coast. She will not travel to the world masters championships in July at Montreal, or to the long-course nationals in August in Maryland.
Her children, ages 7, 9 and 11, and husband also swim at LaCamas Swim and Sport.
Johnson placed in the top 10 in the 35-39 age group in each of her six individual events. She also swam four relays with teams representing Oregon Swimming, finishing top-10 in two of those.
In her other individual races, Johnson placed fourth in the 100 back (1:06.19), fifth in the 200 back (2:22.23), fifth in the 50 back (30.95), sixth in the 500 free (5:47.87), and eighth in the 200 free (2:06.77).
Johnson said that having a national meet to prepare for motivated her to train seriously in advance of the meet.
The nationals included more than 2,000 swimmers ages 18-95. She said watching older men and women compete was a favorite part of the meet.
Everyone at the meet, Johnson said, was an example that swimming is a lifetime sport.
Also representing the LaCamas Swim and Sport at the meet were Kelly Dean, Wes Edwards and Nancy Vincent.
In the women's 40-44 age group, Dean competed individually in the 100 butterfly (1:14.01), 50 free (28.86), 50 back (fourth place in 32.36), 100 back (eighth in 1:10.75), and the 50 fly (31.23).
In the men's 60-64 age group, Edwards swam the 200 back (fifth place in 2:18.37), 100 free (sixth in 55.31), 100 back (sixth in 1:02.90) and 50 fly (28.07).
In the women's 50-54 age division, Vincent swam individual races in the 50 free (30.31), the 100 breaststroke (1:21.91), 100 free (1:07.34), 200 breast (3:05.78), 50 breast (37.60) and 200 free (2:25.03).