March 7, 2016
Burnham-On-Sea pensioner, 85, sets new British swimming record

A Burnham-On-Sea pensioner has proven that age is no barrier to success by breaking a British swimming record over the weekend.

Grenville Cole, 85, set a new British record when he took part in a 50-metre event at the Welsh Open Masters Swimming Championships in Wales on Saturday (March 5th).

Grenville competed in the men’s 85-89 year-old age group 50m breaststroke long-course and set a time of 59.45 seconds, smashing the previous British record by around two seconds.

His accomplishment is all the more remarkable because he only re-started swimming in 2014 after a 68-year gap.

He told "I gave up swimming when I was 15 back in 1946 - the opportunities then were not the same as today even though I loved the sport and was a strong swimmer. There was a 68-year gap before I got back into the pool in 2014."

"I'd just wondered if I could still swim, and gave it a go. Despite feeling exhausted the first few times I kept it going and now swim at Burnham Pool three times a week."

"On one occasion Sara from the Swim and Sports Academy asked whether I'd considered entering the Swimming Masters. I didn't think I'd have a chance, but said I'd give it a go."

"I went along to my first race at Millfield last year and, standing on the starting blocks that day, I can remember thinking 'what I am doing?' I haven't swum two lengths for years. I just hoped the adrenaline would keep me going. Well, it did and I won gold!"

Grenville went on to win another gold at the Somerset and Gloucester Masters, followed by a silver medal at the British National Masters in Sheffield.

His latest competition was the Welsh Open Masters Championships in Swansea on Saturday.

"I drove the 99-miles across to Wales to compete in the 50m breaststroke long-course and I was very pleased to win gold in my age group 85-89. But while I knew I'd won gold straight away, it wasn't until Saturday evening when I'd driven back to Burnham that I heard from Sara that the organisers had confirmed that I'd actually broken the British record!"

"Well, I could hardly believe it. I'm just so delighted and hugely pleased."

He added: "I love swimming - the people I swim with here in Burnham are so nice and the Academy staff are so supportive and full of encouragement."

Grenville is now looking forward to taking part in the European Championships for his age group, which will be held at the Olympic Pool in London later this year.

He says age is no barrier for swimming. "To have been out of the water for 68 years and then to come back and swim competitively at age 85 is incredible. It's not something I thought would ever happen to me!"

Sara Cox-Conklin from Burnham Swim and Sports Academy says everyone is so pleased for him, adding: "Grenville is a remarkable athlete whom we are so proud of. He's truly been an inspiration to everyone here and we are all so excited for him."

"To hear his story about how he never gave up on his childhood dreams of swimming competitively is fantastic - he didn't have the opportunity at the age of 15 but now he does and he's winning. He's a legend."

Pictured: Sara Cox-Conklin from Burnham Swim and Sports Academy with Grenville Cole, 85, who has set a new British swimming record


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