The message was in the form of a question: "SUE BRENNAN, WILL YOUMARRY STEVE JONES?"
With that, Jones dove into the pool holding asealed plastic Easter egg and set it afloat. Brennan swam over to join him, opened the egg and found a gift-wrapped box containing an engagement ring inside.
Brennan's answer to Jones' question was an emphatic 'Yes." That, too, then was flashed on the display board -- 'YES! YES!" -- and the natatorium rocked with applause.
"I was shocked," said Brennan, 24, a nurse at Harbor Hospital.
The 32-year-old Jones, a trooper for the Maryland State Police, planned the engagement caper with the assistance of Nancy Brown, coach of the Severna ParkY Masters team, and meet director Paul Atkinson.
"Three days before we went to Indianapolis, I found a ring I thought Sue would like and decided to give it to her out there," Jones said. "I wanted to do it around the team because it's like family. And I knew she would swim well."
The Brennan-Jones engagement was the romantic interlude to a highly successful foray for the Severna Park Y.
Competing in afield of 125 teams from across the countryduring the four-day meet last month, Severna Park, featuring 38 swimmers ranging in age from 24 to 78, rang up 1,497 points to finish third behind host Arthur Jordan Y of Indianapolis (2,238 points) and Plymouth Community Family Y of Michigan (1,831).
The Severna Park women, with 717 1/2 points, were second to Jordan (947), while the men, with 603, were third behind Plymouth (1,321) and Jordan (1,015 1/2).
"The team was incredible,"said Brown, who was assisted by Jill Springer and Jim Hutcheson.
The team pulled together despite the loss of Helen Cahill, 75, who suffered a stroke the first day of the meet after contributing pointswith second places in the 200 backstroke and 50 freestyle in the 75-79 age group. Cahill had driven alone to Indianapolis and returned byplane in a wheelchair while Hutcheson drove her car back.
SevernaPark set 20 YMCA national Masters records and five U.S. Masters marks. Brennan alone established six of the Y records and one U.S. mark, suggesting the engagement ceremony was hardly a distraction.
Jonesposted eight personal best times this year and three of his best ever, dating to his days at Catonsville Community College. He will be honored as the team's most-improved swimmer and Brennan as the team's outstanding female swimmer.
Jones and Brennan met, appropriately, at the Severna Park Y last summer. Jones got back into swimming partlyout of a desire to lose weight. In four months, he lost 46 pounds, to 173, and trimmed his waistline from 38 to 31 inches.
Brennan, a Broadneck High graduate, had been training in Norfolk, Va., for the U.S. Olympic Trials after a career at Old Dominion University but grewweary of the grind.
"I just didn't want that level of training anymore," Brennan said. "I wanted it to be fun."
Records set bythe Severna Park YMCA team at the championships were:
U.S. Masters Swimming records -- 19-24 age group, Sue Brennan, 50-yard freestyle, 24.53 (old record, Lori McQueston, 24.70, 1987); 55-59 age group, Nancy Brown, 200 backstroke, 2:46.26 (old record, self, 2:47.42, April13, 1991), 100 backstroke, 1:17.44 (old record, Clara Walker, 1:17.49, 1982); 19-and-over 200 freestyle relay (Brennan, Jamie Gorski, Sharon Pilgrim, Sue Marinzel), 1:42.67 (old record, Orlando, 1:46.71, 1990); 19-and-over 200 medley relay (Brennan, Gorski, Pilgrim, Barb Protzman), 1:57.90 (old record, Lakeside,
Calif., 1:58.61, 1988). Allalso are YMCA national records.
Other YMCA national records -- 19- 24, Brennan, 100 freestyle 53.88, 200 free 1:57.5, 500 free 5:25.56, 50 butterfly 27.24, 100 fly 59.95; 30-34, Gorski, 100 breast stroke1:11.28; 35-39, Buck Clemson, 1,000 free 10:55.23; 45-49, Chris Ostrom, 50 fly 25.61, 100 IM 1:00.74; 55-59, Brown, 200 fly 2:57.39, 500 free 6:38.54, 50 back 35.99, 400 indi
vidual medley 5:58; 19-and-over mixed medley (John Protzman, Gorski, Brennan, Bill Kvetkas) 1:48.76); 45-and-over mixed medley relay (Jack Iliff, Ostrom, Brown, SallyIliff) 2:08.37.
Other individual event winners -- 19-24, Jim Hutcheson, 200 back, 200 fly; 30-34, John Protzman, 400 IM; 35-39, Sue Marinzel, 50 free; 40-44, Marti Betz, 200 back; 45-49, Jack Iliff, 200 back, 100 back; 55-59, Bill Reeve, 200 back; 70-74, Norris Fluke, 500free, 200 free, 400 IM; 75-79, Betty Taylor, 200 back, 100 IM, 500 free, 200 fly, 100 back; 19-and-over mixed free relay (Kvetkas, J. Protzman, Brennan, Gorski); 45-and-over mixed free relay (J. Iliff, S. Iliff, Ted Murray, Brown); 65-and-over mixed free relay (Chuck Eremchuk, Fluke, Carol Knepp, Betty Carrozza).
Other point contributors -- 25-29, John Burke; 30-34, Jerry Weinberger, Steve Jones; 35-39, SueClemson, Sandy Alcorta, Gordon Haines; 40-44, Toby Shannon; 45-49, Kathryn Gregory, Gail Saghirian, Barb Wandel, Laudi Baer; 50-54, FrankGanoczy; 55-59, Marvin Baer; 60-64, John Collings, Jim Gronseth; 65-69, Jack Hull; 75-79, Ray Edelhoff, Helen Cahill.