Age is just a number, and Japan’s Mieko Nagaoka has proven it with her passion for swimming.
Almost at 101, she is not only an active sportswoman, but has also become world’s first centenarian to set a world record for completing 1500 meters in freestyle swimming in a 25-meter short-course pool. It only took her one hour, 15 minutes and 54.39 seconds to complete the entire race and in backstroke to boot.
Nagaoka was the sole competitor in 100- to 104-year-old age bracket at Japan Masters Swimming Association’s event in Matsuyama, Ehime. Guinness World Records is expected to recognize her incredible achievement once she files a petition with the international swimming federation.
“I want to swim until I turn 105 if I can live that long,” said Nagaoka in a post-race interview, clarifying that she has no plans for retirement.
The Yamaguchi native, born in 1914, only took up swimming some 20 years ago while undergoing aquatherapy for her knee problem. However, the therapy soon turned into a passion and she took it up as a sport by competing in various national events.
Currently Nagaoka holds 15 world records for 100m, 200m and 800m freestyle, and the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke swims, according to her profile on FINA.
“She is some woman. The world first means no one has done it. It was awesome that my mother has challenged and accomplished her goal at her age,” said her son Hiroki Nagaoka. “She still uses her brain and tries to figure out the best way to swim, she still even tries to change her swimming form to challenge for a record. I'm really proud of her.”
The centenarian has also authored a book called I’m 100 Years Old and The World’s Best Active Swimmer.