Swimmer profile: Betty Brussel

Elisabeth Margaret Brussel was born in 1924 in Holland. She grew up in Amsterdam until 1959, when she immigrated to Canada to meet up with the rest of her family, who had already moved there in 1951. She now lives alone in BC since her husband passed away, after they’d been married for almost 65 years. She misses him dearly, but considers herself lucky to still have so many of her brothers and sisters with her, as well as her 3 kids.

She has always loved swimming, but it wasn’t until her retirement that she really learned the proper technique; lifeguards gave swimming lessons for seniors, and that’s where she really learned how to swim. Betty has always been very active: over the years, she trained in speed skating, gymnastics, and hiking, but swimming is where her heart is truly at. She feels young and fresh in the pool, and she truly believes that swimming is the reason why she’s still in such a good shape at 93. She trains for fun 3 times a week, but she also competes and performs very well in her age group. Just last week, she was in Budapest for Worlds, where she won 5 medals—one for each event she was entered into, 4 silver and 1 bronze. She also says her teammates love having her around for relays, because despite being one of the oldest swimmers around the pool, she can still swim some pretty impressive times.

Her swimming career hasn’t always been easy; Betty needed a shoulder surgery 17 years ago, and since then she had to stop swimming IM. That didn’t keep her out of the pool long, and she still holds many provincial and Canadian records. During her years of training in the pool, she has learned to pace herself and fight with everything she has left at the end of a race—that’s why she is at her best during distance freestyle events.

After being a competitive swimmer for so long, her love for the sport never faded. She does miss something though—she says that swimmers during senior games used to dress up funny for the relays and act silly on the pool deck. Young swimmers don’t do that anymore, and she misses that silliness that helped ease the pressure during important meets.

We wish Betty many more years around the pool, and we encourage her to bring back the costume tradition in relays!

Do you or anyone you know have a swimming story you want to share with us? New swimmers, veterans, competitive or recreational, send it to doughannum@mastersswimming.ca, and maybe you’ll see it on this blog in the next few weeks!

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