99-year-old breaks world records at USMS National Championships in Chesterfield

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Willard Lamb stands out as the oldest swimmer at the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer Nationals Championship hosted at SwimRVA.

At 99 years old, he glides through the water with ease.

“An activity like this keeps you busy. And I am as surprised as anybody else would be, you know?” Lamb said.

The crowd and swimmers cheered him on as he finished 15 laps in about 45 minutes. Wednesday, he received 4 FINA Masters World Records for his age group, competing against himself.

To keep coming out on top, he trains three days a week with his teammate Valerie Jenkins while at home in Oregon. He looks at Jenkins as his coach.

“So earlier this summer, he had swam the 800 freestyle. So, I was comparing how he was swimming compared to that race and actually, he was going a little faster,” Jenkins said.

The world record holder grew up out west in Washington, where he fell in love with the water at the tender age of 12.

“We have a lake in Long View - Lake Sacajawea, and I was swimming along the edge of the lake, and I was dog paddling, and I thought I’d see what I could do with overhand,” Lamb said.

He spent many summers practicing, which later landed him a spot on the swim team at the University of Washington. That came to an end when he was drafted into the military. After three years, the World War II veteran worked as a carpenter until he retired in 2002.

“In ‘06, I started getting in shape. I mean, I did have to get in shape for swimming again. After a couple of months, I felt pretty good,” Lamb.

He caught on rather quickly, started competing in the nationals in 2010 and hasn’t stopped since.

He says the secret is to keep moving your body.

“We all need exercise, and you’d be surprised how fun swimming is,” he said.

Lamb turns 100 on Christmas Eve and has no plans of slowing down. He will compete in five more events during the championship that wraps up Sunday.

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