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Masters world record holder John Harrison celebrates his 105th birthday

Peter Hassall gave one of Great Britain’s legendary swimmers a call to congratulate him on achieving a very special milestone.

The day after Adam Peaty was celebrating his seventh world championship gold medal with victory in the 50m Breaststroke in South Korea, another of Britain’s superstar swimmers was also celebrating – albeit a different achievement.

You see, the other swimmer was John Harrison, Britain’s oldest masters world record holder who has set records in the 100-104 years group! 

He was the first ever British man to set records in that age group – and he turned 105 on Thursday 25 July.

I spoke to him at his flat in Godalming and congratulated him on this new milestone. 

“Thank you very much indeed,” he said. “It is very good of you to get in touch with me.”

I wondered how he was feeling on a day when the temperature was nudging 36 degrees celsius? 

“Not bad at all, everything is going okay,” he said. “I am looking forward to going to the pub for a few drinks to celebrate – and you are very welcome to join us.”

I can’t do anything silly and upset the Queen!

Unfortunately, I had to give the get together a miss but we chatted for a bit longer and I did find out that John has had a couple of accidents recently with a bad fall and sustaining a nasty cut, both of which have contributed to him not making it into the water for some time.

It does not seem long since he was named Sports Personality of the Year at the 2014 Sport Godalming Awards in recognition of his achievements in the pool. And also the ASA’s senior swimmer of that year.

He is also the only British man (or woman) to feature in the 95-99 age group holding four freestyle and two backstroke short course mark. For long course, he has five British records.

However, one does have to wonder if we will ever see this inspiring man breaking any more swimming records. 

He has loved his involvement with swimming but due to problems losing body heat, he may not be able to challenge world champion Peaty to a 50m Breaststroke race in the near future.

“No, I have to be very careful these days,” said John. “And I can’t do anything silly and upset The Queen. I got a lovely card from her!”

Still mixing in the higher echelons, superstar swimmer John Harrison. Happy 105th birthday!