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She's 100 (Almost) And Still Swimming: Another Centenarian To Admire

Marie Kelleher.
U.S. Masters Swimming
Marie Kelleher.

We have a fondness for stories about centenarians, we have to admit.

There was Fauja Singh, the 100-year-old "Turbaned Tornado," who finished the Toronto Marathon last year.

And we've posted about Tennessee's Evelyn "Mama Bird" Johnson, who died last week at the age of 102. She held the Guinness world record for most hours logged by a female pilot.

Now we're hearing about Marie Kelleher in Virginia, who at the age of 99 is still setting swimming age-group records. Counted as being 100 because United States Masters Swimming rules "use the swimmer's age as of December 31 for competitions held in 25-meter courses," according to Virginia Masters Swimming, she just became "the oldest known American woman to have competed at a USMS-recognized meet."

The Richmond Times-Dispatch says that "Kelleher swims four days a week, usually logging about 10 laps per session. She arrives at the Tuckahoe YMCA at 5 a.m. on her swimming days, driving herself 9 miles from her home to arrive exactly when the Y opens."

"I need the swimming," she told the newspaper, with a grin. "I'm not much at walking anymore. ... I told somebody recently that I staggered when I walk. He said that didn't sound too good. So let's just say I wobble."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.