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Masters swimmer John Harrison sees centenary in with a swim

25 July 2014

Most people would just be happy to see their 100th birthday, but ASA Masters swimmer John Henry Harrison is not most people.

John has been swimming for 93 years and today he turned 100. To celebrate, he took himself down to Godalming Leisure Centre in Surrey for one of his regular morning swims.

After being forced to give up open water scuba diving at the age of 78 by his partner as she thought it was too dangerous, Royal Navy veteran John took up Masters Swimming and became a regular swimmer at his local club Godalming ASC.

"As soon as I get in that water I’m like a penguin" - John H HarrisonHe also continues to swim for the Royal Navy masters swimming club and is determined to carry on swimming as long as he can.

Not only is John a regular swimmer, he has also recently made quite a splash by setting some incredible World and European records in the 100-104 age group. These include:

  • A world short course 50m Backstroke record of 1:29.78.
  • A European record in the 100m Freestyle
  • A long course 50m Backstroke world record of 1:32.20
  • A 100m Freestyle record of 3:23.10.

As an acknowledgement of his achievements in the world of aquatics, John was presented with a special Achievement Award which marks his dedication to both swimming and for inspiring others to lead a health and active lifestyle.

Commenting ahead of his 100th Birthday John said ‘I have had a full life in and around the water although I started swimming regularly every week when my wife insisted I stop my scuba diving at sea, as it was worrying her sick. Swimming is excellent for your muscles. Out of water I might dodder a little but as soon as I get in that water I’m like a penguin’.

Jamie Perry, spokesperson for the Amateur Swimming Association, commented ‘Research conducted by Arnold School of Public Health over a 32 to year period, including 40,000 men between the ages of 20-90, concluded that swimming regularly cuts the risk of men dying by 50% compared to runners, walkers and sedentary peers.

The Masters motto is ‘Fitness, Friendship & Fun’.“John is a living breathing example of these findings, he is an amazing character, full of life and an inspiration to all those around him. Clearly he is a fantastic advocate of the health benefits of swimming regularly. We are delighted to present him with this amazing award today to mark his achievements in inspiring others to swim.”

The classification of a Masters swimmer is any swimmer between the ages of 18-100 who swim regularly at a swimming club. England has a network of 1,220 swimming clubs across the country who meet up to train, keep fit, have a social experience and compete in ASA and Masters competitions all over the world.  The Masters motto is ‘Fitness, Friendship & Fun’.

It is quite common for professional swimmers to follow a career in the Royal Navy once they retire, as much as it is for veterans to miss life on the water and join swimming clubs. British Swimming recently started a partnership with the Royal Navy to highlight their shared focus on elite performance, sharing a slogan “Excellence in and on the water.”

  • Click here to find out more about the partnership between the Royal Navy and British Swimming / ASA.
  • Click here to learn more about Masters swimming.
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