An 86-year- old European champion is encouraging people, young and old, to take up swimming and feel the benefits of it.
Roger Burrell, who swims at Durham County Council’s Chester-le- Street leisure centre, was taught to swim by his father. He then swam competitively at school and through a swimming club during the war years.
He went on to Loughborough College where he held the captaincy of swimming before joining Launceston Swimming Club in 1997 and entered the first European competition held at Derby Baths in Blackpool.
Recent successes saw Roger compete in the European Swimming Championship, held in London in May this year, where he came first in the 50, 100 and 200 metres back stroke.
Not only did he break the British records in all three races but he also broke the European record in the 84-89 years category in the 100m.
A team player, Roger joined the Spencer Swim team which has a combined age of 320+ years. The team came second in the relay race breaking the British record, with Roger swimming the first leg and breaking the British 50m freestyle record.
The Spencer Swim team improved on their relay race to go on to win the mixed medley relay and break yet another British record.
He enjoys the sport more for the benefits to his health and says it’s an excellent way to keep fit at his age as it’s not a weight bearing activity.
Roger said: “Swimming makes me feel good and I enjoy being able to do it. Going faster is my motivation and I intend to keep going for as long as possible.
“It offers me an ongoing challenge mentally and physically. For anyone who wants to keep fit I’d encourage them to begin swimming regardless of their age.”
As the Chester-le- Street leisure centre offers swimming for all ages, Roger hopes to encourage more people to take up swimming.
Already starting at a young age like Roger are three-year- old Charlie Logan, his brother Jay, aged 7 and Venity Mitchenson, aged 5.
The youngsters are all taking part in the ‘learn to swim programme.’ Charlie is in stage 6, Jay is in aquatots 3 and Verity is in stage 4.
The club swimmers for the leisure centre are Luke Turnbull, aged 9, Faith Omoregbe, aged 9, Georgina Lee, aged 15 and 14-year- old Taryn Wheat.
Luke and Faith both started swimming at the council’s leisure centre at a young age.
Georgina and Taryn also hope to follow in Roger’s footsteps as both of them qualified for the Nationals this year and won Bronze in the North East Regional.
17-year- old Jamie Keyworth also qualified for the Nationals and reached the finals last year.
For more information about swimming and leisure centres visit www.durham.gov.uk/clsleisurecentre or visit www.durham.gov.uk/leisurecentres.