Willard Lamb set his first record 82 years ago. At that time, the American was a student at the R.A. Long High School in Washington state. He broke the state record for the 220-yard freestyle (around 200 meters) and was scouted for the swim team by the coach at the University of Washington.
He went unbeaten in his freshman semester and was on his way to becoming a top swimmer. Then World War II got in the way. Lamb was drafted.
Lamb only returned to the pool in 2002, since 2006 he has been taking part in competitions again – and has been breaking all records ever since. Lamb is now 99 years old. At the US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals in Richmond/Virginia it was time again.
Because it’s his birthday this year and marks the turn of the century, he was allowed to compete in the 100 to 104 age group. Lamb needed 42:27.06 minutes for his 1500 meter freestyle race. It is the first time ever set for a man of his age – and thus automatically a world record.
Since intermediate times can also be counted as records in such a race, Lamb now also holds the records for 200 meters (5:18.86 minutes), 400 meters (10:55.25 minutes) and 800 meters (22:15.67 meters). ). Lamb also holds the world best values over 100 and 200 meters backstroke.
He was already the dominator in the group of 95 to 99 year olds and still holds world records on eight distances here. In total, Lamb has already set more than 60 world records in five age groups (80-84 years to 100-104 years). In 2019 he was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame.
The 99-year-old doesn’t think about quitting, as long as his physical condition allows it. “I swim a mile every day (about 1.61 kilometers, ed.), That’s how you stay fit for longer distances,” Lamb explains his recipe for success. “And if I can already swim a mile, I can also compete in the 1500 meters.”
Two more world records were also broken at the US Masters Swimming. Shirley Loftus-Charley won the 1500m freestyle in the 70-74 age group in 22:17.49, while Arnaldo Perez won the 60-64 age group in 17:55.91 over the same distance.