Betty Brussel has set not one, but three world records, in a single day of swimming — at 99.
The Canadian set unprecedented times on Saturday for the 100-to-104-year-old age bracket, according to The Globe & Mail. (Age brackets are based on birth years, and Brussel will turn 100 in July.) Brussel broke the 400-meter freestyle record by almost four minutes after finishing in 12 minutes, 50 seconds.
The great-grandmother also finished the 50-meter backstroke in 1 minute, 20 seconds, 42 milliseconds, thus reportedly topping the previous record by more than five seconds — before setting the first ever-record for her age class in the 50-meter breaststroke.
Brussel completed that latter feat in 1 minute, 56 seconds, 11 milliseconds.
“When I’m racing, I don’t think about anything,” she told The Guardian on Tuesday. “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,” continued Brussel.
Brussel’s swims were recently posted on YouTube by the Aurora Master Ducks club in Ontario to more than 25,000 views. The swimming program says it coaches adults “with a broad range of goals.” Their other videos have notably garnered only a few hundred clicks.
The feats were only the latest in Brussel’s impressive life.
The swimmer was raised in Holland as the second of 12 children and survived World War II as a teenager in charge of watching over her siblings, according to The Washington Post. Her family lived without electricity from 1939 to 1942. Brussel was ultimately pulled out of school at 14.
She moved to Canada in 1959 with her husband, Gerrit, and raised three children with him while working as a cleaner and seamstress. She started swimming competitively in her 60s after retiring in 1982, and kept it up regularly even after Gerrit died a few years ago.
Brussel has since competed in contests around the world, including the Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah, and told the Post that swimming pools are her “happy place.” She drives herself to practice, even at 99, and said that she’s “a very independent person.”
“We have several swimmers on our team in their 80s who actively compete with us, but Betty is the only one in her 90s still competing,” Linda Stanley Wilson, her swim coach and the president of the White Rock Wave club, told the outlet. “Betty is our superstar.”
When asked what the key to her active long life is, Brussel shared her secrets.
“I am a happy person,” she told the Post, before adding: “Keep doing stuff.”