Less than half of America’s 85,000-plus master swimmers compete. For the minority who do, there are national championships for 25-yard pools and for Olympic-length 50-meter pools, but not for 25-meter pools.

So for “short-course meters,” zone championships are the significant ritual event. For Maine, that’s the annual New England and Colonies’ Zone short-course-meters championships Friday through Sunday, Dec. 8-10 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Last year, 26 Maine masters swam and combined to place eighth among 57 teams.

This year, a much more modest eight Maine swimmers competed, three who train at the Penobscot Bay YMCA and two from the Waldo County YMCA.

Few, but good. They did the work of 26. With only eight swimmers, Maine again finished eighth among 57 teams.

Championships were won, records broken and times that will make national top 10 accomplished.

Those talented and highly successful five Midcoast swimmers included Pieter deHart of Thorndike, Bill Jones of Hope, Mara Crans of Camden, Doug Roth of Warren and Brittany Harrington of Searsport.

deHart swam nine events, as he garnered five firsts and four seconds, despite, at age 39, being at the top of the difficult 35-39 age group.

He is New England and Colonies’ Zone champion in 50- and 100-meter freestyle, 100- and 200-meter backstroke and 100-meter individual medley.

As of this meet, deHart's Worcester times ranked from third (in the 200-meter back) to 11th, seven being tentative national top-10s. He set new Maine records in the 200- and 400-meter IM and the 200-meter back. He scored 145 of Maine’s 815 points.

The next highest points winner was Crans with 139. In the tough 50-54 women's group, Crans swam 12 events and a relay, pulling in four thirds, two fourths, three fifths, a sixth and seventh, and seventh on the relay with Harrington and Jones. The team protested her dubious disqualification for a false start in the 100-meter free, to no avail, Jones said.

In the 55-59 men’s group, Roth won the New England and Colonies’ Zone championship in the most difficult event, the 200-meter butterfly. Roth, the ultimate team player, Jones said, swam 13 events, the most permitted, scoring 122 points. His most dramatic was his 200-meter breaststroke on Sunday morning; arriving late, he raced to shed his clothes, don his suit, ran to his lane and dove in about half a minute after the starting gun, thereby salvaging an eighth place.

Jones faced little competition, only two other "mediocre" swimmers, he said, in his 80-84 division. He won his seven events and swam a relay, scoring 119 points. His first three events completed his swim of all 53 masters' events at age 80, breaking a Maine record in the 400-meter free and Maine and New England records in the 100-meter breast. He already holds the records in his other four events, but did not equal them. All his times should qualify for 2017 national top 10.

Harrington swam six events and a relay in her much more competitive 30-34 group, winning New England and Colonies’ Zone championships in the 400- and 1,500-meter free and the 400-meter IM despite being at the top group age. She scored 91 points. Her 400- and  1,500-meter frees and 100-meter breast were Maine records. All six of her times likely will be national top 10 when the year is finished.

She also deserves credit for Jones’s 400-meter free record; she was counting for him, when, at 75 meters, he intended to quit. "With a librarian’s restraint, instead of shouting, she simply pointed at the other end," Jones said. So, the Hope resident continued.

The rest of Maine was sorely under-represented, Jones said, but the non-Midcoast three — Bill Rupert of Turner, Dale Syphers of Brunswick and Ben Morse of Bath — were similarly impressive. They did not swim as many events as the Midcoast five, but they contributed 13 events, including three firsts.

Jones said he wondered what Maine Masters might have accomplished as a team if Crans had not disqualified in the 100 free, if swimmers had not scratched their final events to get home earlier in the snow, if Drew Darling of Camden, who was entered, had not had to pull out after a painful sailing accident, and if more of Maine’s powerful team had turned out to compete.

Maine Masters welcomes swimmers ages 19 and older of all skill levels. Pen Bay and Waldo County YMCAs have organized practices for those who wish to swim together. Many master swimmers prefer to swim on their own.

The individual or relay results for the Midcoast swimmers included:

50-meter free — Men 35/9 deHart 26.17 1st; women 50/4 Crans 33.41 3rd; and men 55/9 Doug Roth 34.36 21st.

100-meter free — Men 35/9 deHart 57.94 1st; women 50/4 Crans 1:15.23 DQ; and men 80/4 Bill Jones 1:51.11 1st.

200-meter free — Women 50/4 Crans 2:49.10 3rd; and men 55/9 Roth 2:48.23 5th

400-meter free — Women 30/4 Harrington 5:11.06 1st; men 35/9 deHart 4:41.09 2nd; women 50/4 Crans 5:53.55 5th; and men 80/4 Jones 7:57.09 1st.

1,500-meter free — Women 30/4 Harrington 20:25.66 1st; men 35/9 deHart 19:13.78 2nd; women 50/4 Crans 23:18.19 7th; men 55/9 Roth 24:13.49 3rd; and men 80/4 Jones 33:52.46 1st.

50-meter back — Women 50/4 Crans 41.63 3rd.

100-meter back — Men 35/9 deHart 1:10.16 1st; women 50/4 Crans 1:30.91 4th; and men 55/9 Roth 1:32.58 8th.

200-meter back — Men 35/9 deHart 2:29.26 1st; women 50/4 Crans 3:10.35 4th; and men 55/9 Roth 3:20.07 5th.

50-meter breast — Women 50/4 Crans 47.78 3rd; and men 55/9 Roth 50.27 9th.

100-meter breast — Women 30/4 Harrington 1:29.40 4th; women 50/4 Crans 1:44.30 5th; men 55/9 Roth 1:50.40 11th; and men 80/4 Jones 2:06.96 1st.

200-meter breast — Men 55/9 Roth 4:24.11 8th.

100-meter fly — Women 30/4 Harrington 1:20.13 3rd; and men 55/9 Roth 1:54.60 5th.

200-meter fly — Men 55/9 Roth 4:23.07 1st; and men 80/4 Jones 5:15.17 1st.

100-meter IM — Men 35/9 deHart 1:07.44 1st; women 50/4 Crans 1:30.75 6th; men 55/9 Roth 1:32.42 17th; and men 80/4 Jones 1:51.11 1st.

200-meter IM — Women 30/4 Harrington 2:49.98 4th; men 35/9 deHart 2:25.27 2nd; and women 50/4 Crans 3:16.74 5th.

400-meter IM — Women 30/4 Harrington 5:58.99 1st; men 35/9 deHart 5:18.06 2nd; men 55/9 Roth 7:23.25 3rd; and men 80/4 Jones 9:39.32 1st.

200-meter medley relay — Mixed 200-239 2:51.96 7th, Rupert (74 – back), Crans (51 – breast), Harrington (33 – fly), Jones (80 – crawl)

Bill Jones, a longtime masters swimmer, provided information for this report.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.