400 M Freestyle World Record

Centenarian Swimmer, 99, Breaks the 400 M Freestyle World Record

Betty Brussel, about to be a centenarian, breaks the 400 m freestyle world record.

As people age, their typical functioning abilities decline and daily tasks can occasionally become quite challenging.

Though she is getting close to her centenarian birthday, Betty Brussel, who is 99 years old, is an inspiration to all of us on how to age well and lead a good life, according to Upworthy.

At a swim meet in Saanich, British Columbia, in January 2024, the 99-year-old Dutch-Canadian swimmer broke the 400-meter freestyle world record.

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She finished the event in 12 minutes and 50.3 seconds, almost four minutes quicker than the previous record in the 100–104 age group. (Although Brussel is 99 years old now, age divisions in swimming contests are based on birth year.)

Swimming as a sport requires stamina and endurance. Many elderly people are fit enough to participate in such activities as centenarians is an amazing feat in itself, when many others might find it difficult to even walk up to the stage.

400 M Freestyle World Record
Betty Brussel via Facebook

It’s a whole other level to break the marks for the 50-meter breaststroke and 50-meter backstroke in addition to the 400-meter freestyle record.

That’s not all—Brussel didn’t begin competing until she was in her late 60s, which adds even more credence to her incredible record-breaking swims.

Brussel, is an 11-year widow and resides with her rescued cat Mika. Her three children are 69, 72, and 74 years old.

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At the Saanich swim meet, she raced in five events and, in less than an hour, was feeling well and full of energy. In July, she will turn 100.

Growing up in the Netherlands, on its canals, Brussel learned to swim.

However, as per the Washington Post, as Brussel was the second oldest of twelve children, she had to take care of her younger siblings and was unable to pursue her interests in sports like gymnastics, swimming, and skating.

In fact, it wasn’t until after her retirement in 1982 that she really started swimming as a sport. Nine years later, when she was 68 years old, she competed in her first tournament.

Brussel has participated in international swim meets during the last thirty years. On the days she doesn’t swim, she still drives herself to swim practices twice a week and spends forty-five minutes walking.

Right now, the only physical assistance she requires is a hand to provide her with some support when she climbs onto the swim platform and a hearing aid.

400 M Freestyle World Record
Betty Brussel via Instagram

According to the Guardian Sport, she said that she does not think of anything else when she’s in a race. To determine how many laps she has left, she just counts the laps. Since these races put a lot of strain on the body, she maintains a speed that she’s comfortable in. In the final lap, she gives her best shot.

Brussel has broken numerous world records, but her swim coach says she doesn’t really give a damn. All she loves to do is swim.

Brussel is a water baby and loves “being in the pool and gliding through the water.” Swimming is like a meditation practice for her, which makes her feel better as she forgets everything else while she swims.

A documentary on Brussel and her remarkable swimming achievements is in production and might be released in the fall of 2024.

Maya Bennett