98 year old BC woman presents Swimming Excellence Award in Calgary competition


Published May 26, 2023 9:03 PM ET

Betty (Elizabeth) Brussel competes in the 2023 Speedo Canadian Masters Championships at the MNP Community and Sport Center in Calgary on Friday, May 26, 2023.

A 98-year-old woman from British Columbia has already made waves at Calgary’s swimming competitions.

Betty (Elizabeth) Brussel, originally from Surrey, BC, is participating in the 2023 Canadian Masters Speedo Championships at the MNP Sports and Community Center.

Although the competition only started on Friday, Brussels led her first heat in the 400 meters, and were among three athletes and coaches recognized in the competition for their contribution and excellence in and out of the pool.

Brussels took home the Swimming Excellence Award, which is given annually to a Master swimmer who has demonstrated consistent and outstanding results at the highest level of competition in Masters swimming.

“I was completely shocked, I never expected it,” Brussels said in a news release.

“You know, winning has never been the most important thing to me. I’m always happy that I can still do it. I’m just as happy when I’m having fun. I’m competitive, I do it, I have a lot of will, but it’s not the most important thing for me.”


Born in the Netherlands in 1924, Brussels learned to swim in the canals near Amsterdam.

These days, he’s in the pool twice a week with his swim club, White Rock Wave.

“The pool is my happy place,” he told CTV News.

Brussels survived a heart attack, but has never faltered in 30 years as a competitive swimmer.

“(I) always go back to swimming because as soon as you get back in the pool you forget everything,” she said.


Greg Mcleod, president of the Calgary Masters Swim Club, said he wasn’t surprised that swimming was central to Brussels life.

“Swimming is the right choice for the elderly to exercise, because the impact is very small,” he explained.

“A club like this brings a lot of community, and a social network for parents to have.”

Brussels friends say he is an inspiration.

“If he can why can not I?” said Joan Gunn-Allard. “I swim until I’m 90, and after that I don’t care…. but you know what? I can go to 99.”


Brussels come to Calgary to race in the 800, 400, 200, 100 and 50 m freestyle as well as the 50 m breaststroke.

“If I don’t win, if I have fun, I’m happy too,” he said.

Brussels – who lives independently, with no complex medical conditions other than hearing aids – says there is no big secret to his athleticism or longevity.

“(It was) nothing special. I walked a lot and I worked all my life.”

The 2023 Canadian Masters Speedo Championship continues through Sunday.

Hadwin Floyd

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