+
upworthy
Identity

99-year-old swimmer just shattered the centenarian world record in the 400m freestyle

Betty Brussel didn't even start swimming competitively until her late-60s.

swimmers in a lap pool
Jim De Ramos/Canva

Did you know that swim categories go beyond age 100?

It's common knowledge that as we age, our bodies change, and at some point, we aren't able to do the things we used to do.

But somebody forgot to tell Betty Brussel that.

In January of 2024, the 99-year-old Dutch-Canadian swimmer shattered the world record for the 400-meter freestyle swim at a swim meet in Saanich, British Columbia, completing the event in 12 minutes and 50.3 seconds—nearly four minutes faster than the previous record in the 100 to 104-year-old age group. (Though Brussel is currently 99, swimming competitions go by year of birth to determine age categories.)


Swimming may be low-impact, but it's not easy. The fact that there is a 100 to 104-year-old age group for swimming is a testament to some of our elders' fitness and stamina. Even just climbing onto the platform at an entire century old is a feat worthy of acknowledgment. Breaking not only the 400-meter freestyle record but also the 50-meter breaststroke and 50-meter backstroke records as well is a whole other level.

And get this: Brussel didn't start competing until she was in her late 60s, which makes her record-breaking swims all the more impressive.

"When I’m racing, I don’t think about anything," she told Guardian Sport. "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."

Brussel learned to swim in the canals of the Netherlands, where she grew up. But according to the Washington Post, as the second eldest of 12 children, Brussel was tasked with looking after her younger siblings, so she wasn't able to pursue the sports she was interested in such as swimming, skating and gymnastics. In fact, she didn't even take up swimming as a serious hobby until after she retired in 1982. She entered her first competition nine years later, at 68 years old.

For the past 30 years, Brussel has competed in swim meets all around the world. She still drives herself to swim practices twice a week and walks for 45 minutes on the days she doesn't swim. The only physical help she needs at this point is a hearing aid and a hand to give her some stability while climbing up onto the swim platform.

According to her swim coach, Brussel doesn't really care much about the world records she's broken, which are plentiful,. She just really enjoys swimming.

“I love being in a pool and gliding through the water,” she told the Globe and Mail. “I feel better when I get out than when I go in. Swimming is my love. It makes me forget all of my worries and I feel great.”

Brussel is a widow of 11 years and lives with her rescue cat, Mika. She has three children, ages 69, 72 and 74. She competed in five events at the Saanich swim meet and was recovered and feeling energized within an hour. She will turn 100 in July.

A documentary about Brussel and her extraordinary swimming accomplishments is in the works, tentatively due to come out in the fall of 2024.

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.


Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?

Keep ReadingShow less
Modern Families

‘Hard pill to swallow’: Mom shares why some adult children don’t talk to their parents

"How your kids treat you when they are no longer in need of food and shelter, is a direct reflection of how you made them feel when they needed you to survive."

Parent and child deal with the pain of estrangement.

Even though humans are biologically hard-wired to form strong attachments to our parents, in many cases, these relationships become estranged as the children age. A recent poll found that nearly 1 in 4 adults are estranged from their families.

Six percent are estranged from their mothers and 26% have no contact with their fathers. It’s believed that these days, more children are comfortable distancing themselves from their parents because it’s good for their mental health.

“I think it relates to this new desire to have healthy relationships,” Rin Reczek, a sociology professor at the Ohio State University, said, according to The Hill. “There might be some cultural shifts around people being allowed to choose who is in your family. And that can include not choosing to have the person who raised you be in your family.”

Keep ReadingShow less

It's rare enough to capture one antler being shed

For those not well versed in moose facts, the shedding of antlers is normally a fairly lengthy process. It happens only once a year after mating season and usually consists of a moose losing one antler at a time.

It’s incredibly rare for a bull moose to lose both at the same time—and even more rare that someone would actually catch it on film.

That’s why shed hunter (yes, that’s a real term) and woodsman Derek Burgoyne calls his footage of the phenomenon a “one-in-a-million” shot.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Loretta Lynn's granddaughter wows 'American Idol' judges with raw original song

Emmy Russell's original song "Skinny," featuring lyrics about body image and eating disorders, nearly brought everyone to tears.

America Idol/Youtube, Promotional image of Loretta Lynn/Wikipedia

Emmy Russell (left) and her grandmother Loretta Lynn (right)

Emmy Russell, granddaughter of country music icon Loretta Lynn, proved that she was an artist in her own right during a recent episode of “American Idol.”

The 24-year-old singer-songwriter from Nashville auditioned in front of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan during the show's Feb. 25 episode, during which she opened up about wanting to not live in her grandmother’s shadow.

"She's one of the biggest country music singers of all time, but to me she's just Grandma," she said, adding "I think I am a little timid, and I think it is because I want to own my voice. That's why I want to challenge myself and come out here."

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Jimmy Fallon asked his viewers if they've ever been caught red-handed. Here are 15 of the best responses.

You can’t lie about it, you can’t take it back, all you can do is pray for forgiveness.

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images


There is nothing worse than being caught in the act when you're up to no good. You can't lie about it, you can't take it back, all you can do is pray for forgiveness.

"Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon asked his viewers if they had ever been caught red-handed and their responses on Twitter were hilarious.

Here are 15 of the funniest and/or most embarrassing Tweets.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Her mother doesn't get why she's depressed. So she explains the best way she knows how.

Sabrina Benaim eloquently describes what it's like to be depressed.

Sabrina Benaim's “Explaining My Depression to My Mother."

Sabrina Benaim's “Explaining My Depression to My Mother" is pretty powerful on its own.

But, in it, her mother exhibits some of the most common misconceptions about depression, and I'd like to point out three of them here.
Keep ReadingShow less