While much of the world prepares to focus on the athletes in Barcelona, turn your field glasses toward the Severna Park YMCA and discover a national championship team in our own back yard.
For Nancy Brown, one of life's most stimulating aromas is the pungent smell of chlorine.
That's because she spends so much time at the Severna Park YMCA swimming pool, with a whistle in her mouth, a clipboard in her hand and a strategy in her head.
In April, Brown led her Severna Park YMCA Masters Swim Team to the championship of the 1992 YMCA Masters Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In the process of defeating 1,500 or so other swimmers, the Severna Park team broke 35 YMCA national records.
The youngest team member is 21; the oldest, 85.
In February, Brown received a call from the mother of one of her swimmers. Marjorie Pollock had swum before, but never competitively. The 85-year-old wanted to join the team.
After two months of practice, and with her 59-year-old son, Ken, cheering from the sidelines, Pollock defeated an experienced 88-year-old opponent by the name of Hazel Rambo. When she was finished, Pollock had broken five YMCA National records and three U.S. records, not to mention the two YMCA national records set by her relay team.
Brown began as a freestyle swimmer at Friends School in Baltimore.
On a visit to Florida in 1972, she heard about a new swim program in California created by Dr. Ransom Arthur: the Masters Swimming Program, for adults over age 19.
Here was a way for adults beyond normal swim-team age to get back into the water or enjoy swimming for the first time.
Within a few months, Brown had founded Maryland Masters. Today, branches are scattered throughout the state. That includes the 60-member Severna Park team.
Although the team has consistently finished in the top three since entering YMCA competition six years ago, this was the first national title for Severna Park.
"The team has such depth. That's what made us win," says Brown. "Every person on the team that swam placed and got points for the team.
"That's what I like," says the proud coach.
Team points are earned when a swimmer finishes in the top eight. Severna Park's winning score was 3,346. It's nearest competitor, Broward County, Fla., scored 1,472 1/2 . Severna Park beat the previous year's winner, Jordan YMCA from Indianapolis, by more than 2,000 points.
Coming home with first-place medals were: Barb Bishop, Sue Brennen, Darlene Brown, Frances Creamer, Raymond Edelhoff, Jamie Gorskey, Sally Iliff, Steve Muchow, Marjorie Pearsall, Marjorie Pollock, Jill Springer (Brown's daughter), Betty Taylor, Brian Well and Brown.
Relay winners were Chuck Eremchuk, Jim Gronseth, Jack Iliff, Bill Kvetkas, Chris Ostrom, Ken Pollock, and George Szego.
Shortly after moving from Catonsville to Pasadena with her husband, Doug, eight years ago, Brown joined the Masters program at the Severna Park YMCA, established by Faith Lyman.
Practice sessions are held every Tuesday and Thursday evening year-round.
Brown is constantly amazed at the enthusiasm and accomplishments of her swimmers. Frances Creamer, who swims in the 50-54 age group, participated in the Iron-Man
triathlon in Hawaii last fall.
"The other night," she says, "an 80-year-old man on my team asked me to teach him to do the butterfly."
* At the national meet in Indianapolis last year, two great things happened to SPY Masters swimmer Sue Brennen.
Still aglow from her victory in the 50-yard butterfly, she received a second thrill: a marriage proposal.
Her teammate and boyfriend, Steve Jones, popped the question on the electronic score board, and slipped an engagement ring on her finger right in the middle of the pool, to the delight of the spectators.
Because of last year's victory in the butterfly, Brennen has been named to the All-American Masters Team.
The aquatic couple will be married Aug. 1.
The final feature of the county library summer reading program ++
the Severna Park Branch Library will be John Taylor's "Get Loose With Mother Goose," with performances at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23.
Taylor, known as the Pied Piper of Dance, will involve kids in rhyme, rhythm and rap. The free program is for children in preschool through sixth grade. Registration is not required for the hourlong performance, but seating is limited.
For more information, call 222-6290.
The Severn School Board of Trustees has elected new officers: James R. Eyler, chairman of the Baltimore law firm Miles & Stockbridge, was chosen as chairman; Dr. Stanley Watkins, director of Anne Arundel Medical Center's Oncology Center, was selected vice chairman; Jill Svahn, a community volunteer leader, was elected secretary; and John Slidell, executive vice president of Bozzuto & Associates in Greenbelt, was selected as treasurer.
Five new trustees were elected: Betty C. Cole, Anne H. Habeck, John G. Neely, Nancy Osius and Robert W. Powell.