99-year-old Betty Brussel has set a new Canadian swimming record in the 100-104 age group. The record was in the 400-meter freestyle where she shattered the old record by four minutes.
Betty was born in the Netherlands in 1924 and began swimming as a child with her siblings. In 1959, she and her husband moved to Canada where they raised three children. Although Betty has always enjoyed swimming, she didn’t start competing until she was in her 60s, when she competed in the British Columbia Senior Games.
– I really enjoy swimming. I’d love the feeling of gliding through the water and it just makes me feel very good, she told The Guardian.
Over the years, she has trained about twice a week and won several swimming medals. Although she is not yet 100 years old, her year of birth allows her to compete in the 100 to 104 age group.
During a training session in the town of Saanich, British Columbia, the 99-year-old broke the 400-meter freestyle age group swimming world record. Not only did she break the old 400-meter record, she also broke the 50-meter backstroke and 50-meter breaststroke records on the same day.
“The water gives me confidence”
– When I’m racing, I don’t think about anything. Nothing. I just count the laps, so that I know how many I have left. I always try to find a pace that I can sustain – you’re asking a lot from your body in these races. And on the last lap, well, I give it everything I have.
Besides swimming, Betty enjoys reading, doing puzzles and knitting. After the loss of her husband Gerrit a few years ago, swimming has become a regular activity for Betty, which she says helps her maintain her health and mobility as she ages, as well as improving her self-confidence.
– I’m actually a bit shy, and so I get confidence from the water. I’m still getting used to all this attention. But with all of this focus and these records, I’m even starting to feel a bit proud of myself, too.