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99-year-old B.C. swimmer continues to set world records

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As Betty Brussel swam her final length of the pool, a crowd full of spectators, coaches and teammates roared in support as the 99-year-old closed in on making more history Sunday.

Competing in the 800-metre freestyle at the Masters Swimming Association of B.C. provincials in Surrey, Brussel finished with a time of 26 minutes and 17 seconds, a new world record for the 100-to-104-year-old age category.

“I just swam you know; I just did the best I can,” Brussel, who now holds 10 world records, told CTV News.

While the records continue to pile up, Brussel says she continues to compete to maintain her health, and out of love for the sport.

“It’s just a good feeling when you glide through the water,” she said.

Brussel, who will turn 100 years old in July, still dives off the platform with grace.

Her longevity and positive attitude serve as inspiration for her teammates and coaches with the White Rock Wave Swim Club.

“Betty is an inspiration when she swims, whether she breaks a world record or not,” said club president Linda Stanley Wilson.

“She’s just got a really positive outlook, she’s always ready to do any race, she will do relays, she will do six or seven races in a day,” said Stanley Wilson.

Brussel’s path to swimming glory wasn’t exactly a traditional one.

Growing up in Holland with humble beginnings, Brussel eventually immigrated to Canada with her husband and kids, before taking up swimming at the age of 68.

“I didn’t really know anything about proper strokes, or turns, or diving, I picked it all up along the way,” she said.

Stanley Wilson says the club has now created a new “Be like Betty” award.

“It’s an inspiration award we’ll give out every year,” she said. “You don’t have to break a world record, you just need to be a person who is inspiring others.”

Brussel says while she’s still getting learning to embrace the attention coming her way, she takes pride in the fact she’s showing people that you’re never too old to learn.

“People come up to me and say, ‘I was ready to quit, or I didn’t think I could start at my age,’ and then I look at you and say, ‘yes, it can be done,’” she said.

While the provincial championships have come to an end, Brussel says she plans to compete in the World Senior Games in October.

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