With nearly all swimmers reaching their prime between their late teens to early 30s, masters swimming gives an opportunity for swimmers all over to continue competing at any age. Swim Fort Lauderdale’s Cecilia McCloskey has been racing masters for over 30 years and has amassed numerous American Masters and World Masters records.
With decades of experience in the pool, McCloskey is a clear example of the longevity the sport of swimming can provide. After making waves in the US masters swimming world for quite some time, the now 70 year-old is showing no signs of slowing down. Most recently, McCloskey was among a handful of Masters World record breakers at the 2020 Albatross Open in North Bethesda, Maryland. There, she downed the previous 70-74 year-old WRs in the 100 back (1:17.36), 100 fly (1:20.34), 100 IM (1:21.09) and 200 IM (2:55.56).
McCloskey was a part of the US contingent that took part in the 2019 World Masters Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. Swimming only one day of the competition, McCloskey, secured two medals; a gold and a silver. In the 200 backstroke, she took the top spot in the 65-69 age group with the only sub 3-minute time. Her 2:59.90 was fast enough to set a new Championship Record, improving on the previous mark of 3:01.12. She was joined on the podium by Linda Hunt for silver (3:14.28) and Susan Swire-Thompson (3:17.93) for bronze.
She followed up her victory with a 100 freestyle silver, in which she swam a 1:15.69, just behind Jayne Stephenson with a 1:15.12. Third place went to Kathleen Tunnicliffe’s 1:17.89.
Competing at both the 1964 and 1968 US Olympic trials, McCloskey came very close to making the team in the ’68 by placing fourth in the 100 back. In that year, the top three finishers would make the team but McCloskey just missed out as she touched behind Pokey Watson, Susie Atwood, and Kaye Hall.
The next year, McCloskey suffered another blow when she qualified for the 1968 World Student Games team at the ’67 Pan Am Games but couldn’t go as she didn’t reach the age requirement. She needed to be 18 as of Jan 1, 1968 but wouldn’t hit that age until a day later; Jan 2, 1968.
After these setbacks to her swimming career, McCloskey took a step back from the intense training that she had become accustomed to. After a full 10 years out of the pool, McCloskey made her first comeback in 1979 and has been swimming on and off ever since.
2020 for McCloskey has so far yielded 11 US Masters Swimming National records including backstroke, butterfly, IM, and freestyle races.
Cecilia McCloskey 2020 USMS National Records
- 50 Backstroke (SCY) – 32.57
- 50 Butterfly (SCY) – 31.61
- 100 Backstroke (SCY) – 1:10.44
- 100 IM (SCY) – 1:13.33
- 200 Backstroke (SCY) – 2:34.54
- 200 IM (SCY) – 2:42.60
- 400 IM (SCY) – 5:53.25
- 500 Freestyle (SCY) – 6:25.43
- 400 Freestyle (SCM) – 5:55.02
- 800 Freestyle (SCM) – 11:54.61
- 1500 Freestyle (SCM) – 22:06.78
McCloskey’s with US master’s swimming resume dates back more that 30 years and includes a total of 47 USMS national records. Back in 1986 she became the fastest ever 35-39 year-old in the 200 back (SCY), as well as in the 50, 100 and 200 back (LCM). By 2017 she had set 10 45-49 records and 13 65-69 records.