Watch 90-Year-Old Janet Rushmere set a National Senior Games Swimming Record


The National Senior Games swimming competition attracts competitors from age 50 to over 100. While most arrive simply for the thrill of competition, the joy of cameraderie and the obvious health benefits, there are some who show up to the biennial event with the potential to go where no athlete has gone before.

Ninety-year-old Janet Rushmere lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When the National Senior Games came to Pittsburgh in 2023, she couldn’t resist entering to see how she stacked up against the nation’s best.  

Competing in the 50 meter freestyle, Janet’s stroke powered her ahead of the pack, her family and friends cheering her own from the deck, as she set a National Senior Games short course record, coming in at just over 1 minute total (1:00.2).

“I feel fabulous!” Rushmere said afterwards. “It’s totally unexpected. I just, I can’t believe it.”

It wouldn’t be Janet’s only gold medal or National Senior Games record. She won six golds and broke three records on the weekend. While she claims some of her results were unexpected, she certainly earned them.

“Swimming is just my passion,” Rushmere told Growing Bolder. “I’ve loved all kinds of sports, but swimming is at the top. I train about three times a week, for at least an hour and a half each time, and just keep pushing myself. I love it. I just feel wonderful when I’m done.”

If she’s not swimming, she’s walking, playing with her great grandkids, or volunteering as a tutor at a nearby elementary school. Janet is a self-proclaimed cheerleader for a healthy lifestyle. 

“I believe in a healthy diet, I like to cook healthy food. My husband is 94 and still is in good shape and gets around well,” she explained. “He gives a lot of the credit to me for feeding him good food and keeping him active. Get out of that chair and move.” 

While one of the biggest keys to healthy and active aging is exercise, it’s just as important to stay social as we age. Rushmere has found both in her Willow Valley Community, which she believes has made it easier for her to stick to her healthy routine.

“It’s fabulous. My husband and I have said it’s the best decision we ever made to move to Willow Valley,” Rushmere explained. “The people are just so nice and friendly and welcoming. There are lots of things to do, and has the best pool I’ve ever swum in my life. I don’t have to share a lane with anybody, and there are people encouraging me all the time.”

Her message to others who may have doubts about how great life can be as we age?

“Life begins at 80. That’s when I really started doing well in swimming. I’m having a great time. I hope to live a lot more, many more years.

“I’d [advise others] to keep a positive attitude, be optimistic. And stay active and have lots of friends. And just enjoy life with people.” 

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