Roger Williams of Vienna set the Vienna Woods team record for the 50-meter 11-12 backstroke at 36.2 seconds in 1964. Over the next 22 years, Williams competed with such swimming greats as Mark Spitz and played on a nationally ranked water polo team at San Jose State University. But all that time, his name remained on the record books.
In a recent Northern Virginia Swim League meet, Williams was a spectator as John King of Vienna, a former student of his, swam a 34.13 to replace Williams as the record holder. Williams had never thought his record would last more than two decades, and he was not disappointed that it was broken by someone he knew so well.
"I didn't know how well he had done," said Mary King of her son. "But when I looked across the pool I could see the big smile on his face and I knew he broke the record."
King, 12, was recruited for the Vienna Woods swim team at age 7 by Williams, and was coached by him for three years.
"John didn't have as much natural ability as some other swimmers," Williams said. "But he's a perfectionist when it comes to strokes, and the technician in the end does the best."
Although King has been converting his indoor, yard times into outdoor, meter times to determine how close he has been to swimming records, his goal has not been to break records.
"I could hardly believe it," said King. "I've been looking at the record for a long time, but I was trying to concentrate on helping the team win."
That kind of effort has helped him break two other long-time Vienna Woods records this summer. On June 21, King, currently coached by Stan Smith, broke Jim Dickson's 23-year-old record (29.5 seconds) in the 11-12 50-meter freestyle with a time of 29.08. On the same day, he broke a 13-year-old 50-meter butterfly record (34.7), previously held by Jim Manderson, with a time of 32.27.
"John has drive and a great desire to win," said Williams. "He has the ability to go as far as he wants to go, and he is well on his way."
Williams also holds a 23-year-old breaststroke record with the club and was part of the 11-12 relay team, along with Dickson, that has held the 100-meter Northern Virginia Swim League Division I record of 58.4 seconds since 1963. Vienna Woods has since moved throughout NVSL divisions, moving up into Division I again from Division IV in the past four years, placing second in the league last year.
"The team has improved and needs to improve more," said Williams. "With swimmers like John, they are really moving up."
King's younger brother Andrew, 11, is also on the team.
"I like having him there because it gives us strong competition," King said.
Mary King thinks the friendly rivalry between her sons has helped them improve.
"They complement each other," she said. "Andrew accepts John's success and they are both very much team members."
John King has also been competitive in soccer and tennis, but his first love is swimming.
"My total concentration is on swimming," he said. "It's awfully tiring at times, but it's worth it -- and I won't slack off at all."