Friday, 12 August 2022

Swimmer celebrates 80th birthday with as many lengths

A WOMAN celebrated her 80th birthday by swimming a length for each year

A WOMAN celebrated her 80th birthday by swimming a length for each year since she was born, the equivalent of 2km.

Jean Smith, of Elizabeth Close, Henley, completed the challenge at Henley leisure centre with her friend Alan Mortimer, of Greys Road.

She has been a regular at the centre’s pool since it opened in the Seventies.

Every weekday morning she meets fellow swimmers Mr Mortimer and Carolyn Omell, from Peppard, and they swim about 40 lengths. To mark her birthday, Mrs Smith decided to double her usual distance.

She said: “I will have done 4,000 miles in total since I started swimming there. We all swim every weekday morning and meet there when the pool opens at 6.30am.

“I do the swim first thing then the rest of the day is mine to do what I want.

“I have always enjoyed water and anything to do with it. The pool is nearby and when it started opening early it gave me the opportunity to keep fit.”

Mrs Smith’s 80th birthday was on March 13 but she didn’t complete the longer swim until Thursday last week as she was away visiting her children, Kelly and Andrew, in Nottingham.

She is also an active member of the Henley and Goring Ramblers as well as being a member of the South Chilterns and London Explorers Group. Mrs Smith worked at Autodrive car hire and Henley Business School before retiring when she was 68.

She said: “I suppose swimming is part of my routine because if we keep going and do things like walking and swimming it motivates you to keep active and fit and that’s a good thing.

“I’ve been doing the same number of lengths as my birthday for a number of years now.

“The others have got involved in doing it on their birthdays as well and it keeps everyone motivated.

“We keep each other going and if we miss it we have to have a very good excuse!”

Mr Mortimer said: “Jean’s proactive approach to a healthy life is exemplary.”

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