Fifty-six years ago, four boys from Vienna Woods set the record for the 100-yard medley relay (58.4 seconds) in the Northern Virginia Swim League. The record that was set by Roger Russell, Roger Williams, Jim Dickson, and Steve Mason still stands nearly 6 decades later. These men started on the swim team in 1959 for ages 8 and younger, the same year that the pool opened in the community. Medley relay consists of four different types of swimming techniques that cover a 25m (82ft) distance. First there’s the Butterfly stroke, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and the last person would swim freestyle.
Four years ago in 2015, the Amigos competed with the current 11-12-year-old boys in the same relay race at Vienna Woods. Many of the kids there stayed to watch these guys partake in the relay as Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Glory Days’ blared on the P.A. system. The 11-12-year-old girls cheered on the older guys while they booed the 11-12 boys. According to James Dickson, “We thought they all were going to leave, but they all stayed.” The Four Amigos clocked in at 1min 10secs during the relay, which was the first time they swam together since ’63.
Fast forward to today. Roger Russell is a now a retired computer engineer, Roger Williams works as an entrepreneur, Steve Mason is a contractor, and Dickson is a Lawyer who plans on retiring next year. These men may have moved on from swimming, but none of them will forget their moment in the water 56 years ago, and they still have something to prove.
On Saturday July 13th, the 4 amigos will swim at Vienna for the final time as 69-year-old men. Afterwards, there will be a picnic with 82 alums of the Swim Club. The backstroke swimmer, Roger Russell strongly believes that the Four Amigos might be able to beat the 11-12 boys this time, as does Dickson. “We almost beat them last time,” Dickson said, “But I think we have a better shot this time,” he added. The pool will hold a pep rally for the race on Friday July 12th, that the men will be guest speaking at before swimming at 11:30am Saturday morning. According to Dickson, the fact that the record has withstood the test of time is an impressive feat. “Most swimming records get broken after 3-4 years, if that,” he explained.