AWWA 2001: Birmingham takes men's tap honors

The men's tapping team from Birmingham (AL) Water Works (BWW) saved the best for last as they smoked their rivals to successfully defend their 2000 national title in the AWWA 2001 National Tapping Championships.

June 21, 2001 — The men's tapping team from Birmingham (AL) Water Works (BWW) saved the best for last as they smoked their rivals to successfully defend their 2000 national title in the AWWA 2001 National Tapping Championships.

AWWA reported that in the first heat of Wednesday's finals, BWW finished a narrow three-hundreths of second behind the team from Lansing (MI) Board of Water and Light (BWL), whose best time after two heats was 1:23.47.

But in the second heat, and the last competition of the day, Birmingham's Todd Stewart, Johnny Vittles and Jeff Jenkins tapped into a 6-in. cement-mortar lined ductile-iron pipe in a raw time of 1:08.28. With a 4-second penalty for a leak, BWW's final time of 1:12.28 was still more than 11 seconds ahead of second-place Lansing.

This was Birmingham's third national title; they also won in 1996. In eight trips to the national championships, they have always made the final round. Stewart prepares the copper connecting pipe, while Jenkins is the tapping machine cranker, and Vittles is the setter/feeder. The team is coached by Jeff Standridge.

The Lansing BWL team of Jim Valentine (setter), Randy Jones (cranker), and Leon Flores (copper) was pleased with the second place finish, as they were eliminated in the preliminaries last year by hundredths of a second. The finish duplicated the Lansing team's ranking in 1992, which was their previous best finish in eight trips to the national championships.

The competition, which featured 21 teams from across the U.S., duplicates the work of a water distribution work crew tapping into a water-filled main to connect a service line. The national record is 1:01.85, set by the San Antonio, Texas, team in 1994.

Rules have been altered to add safety measures since then, so the time has not been surpassed, yet.

For more information, including a streaming video of the winning team, visit AWWA's web site at http://www.awwa.org.

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