A 98-year-old woman from British Columbia is already making a big splash at a Calgary swimming competition.
Betty (Elizabeth) Brussel, who hails from Surrey, B.C., is participating in the 2023 Speedo Canadian Masters Championships at the MNP Community and Sport Centre.
Though the competition just began on Friday, Brussel was leading her first heat in the 400 metre, and is among three athletes and coaches who are being recognized at the competition for their contributions and excellence in and out of the pool.
Brussel is taking home the Swimming Excellence Award, given out annually to a Masters swimmer who has demonstrated consistent and outstanding results at the highest levels of competitions in Masters swimming.
“I was totally surprised, I never expected it,” Brussel said in a news release.
“You know, winning has never been the most important thing to me. I always was happy that I could still do it. I was just as happy if I had a good time. I am competitive, I go for it, I have a lot of willpower, but it’s not the most important thing to me.”
WHERE IT STARTED
Betty (Elizabeth) Brussel competes in the 2023 Speedo Canadian Masters Championships at the MNP Community and Sport Centre in Calgary on Friday, May 26, 2023. Born in Holland in 1924, Brussel learned to swim in the canals near Amsterdam.
These days, she’s in the pool twice a week with her swim club, the White Rock Wave.
“The pool is my happy place,” she told CTV News.
Brussel has survived a heart attack, but never wavered in her 30 years as a competitive swimmer.
“(I) always go back to swimming because once you are back in the pool, you forget everything,” she said.
SWIMMING SUPPORTS SENIORS
Greg Mcleod, president of the Calgary Masters Swim Club, says he isn’t surprised swimming is central to Brussel’s life.
“Swimming is such a great direction for elderly people to go to for exercise, because its so low impact,” he explained.
“Clubs like this bring in a lot of the community, and a social network for elderly people to have.”
Brussel’s friends say she’s an inspiration.
“If she can do it, why can’t I?” said Joan Gunn-Allard. “I’m swimming until I’m 90, and after that I don’t care…. but you know what? I can go to 99.”
NO LIFE HACK
Betty (Elizabeth) Brussel competes in the 2023 Speedo Canadian Masters Championships at the MNP Community and Sport Centre in Calgary on Friday, May 26, 2023. Brussel came to Calgary to race in the 800, 400, 200, 100 and 50-m freestyle along with 50-m breaststroke.
“If I don’t win, if I have a good time, I’m happy too,” she said.
Brussel – who lives independently, without complex medical conditions other than hearing aids – says there’s no big secret to her athleticism or her longevity.
“(It’s) nothing special. I do walk a lot and I worked all my life.”
The 2023 Speedo Canadian Masters Championships continue through until Sunday.