Grant Hall

Local Sooke swimmer breaks records

Grant Hall, a competitive swimmer of some 20 odd years, took home four competitive swimming records

You know the saying, you’re as old as you feel? It’s true.

But don’t take our word for it. Take Grant Hall’s word for it; the Sooke-based swimmer and breaker of two Canadian records and two BC records during his four races at the Commonwealth Pool Long Course Meet in Victoria this past January.

Oh, and this is certainly worth noting. He’s 80 years old.

Hall, who turned 80 just last year, took part in the age 80 to 84 men’s competitive swimming races on Jan. 31; just as he began undergoing radiation treatment for a cancer that developed in his neck.

Despite the health challenges however, Hall kept himself fixed towards his goal.

“I have to say, I was surprised with my results,” he said. “When I underwent 20 radiation treatments, I was getting a lot of fatigue afterwards, so I didn’t really expect to set the world on fire,” he said.

No doubt, something must’ve sparked in there. Four days before his competition Grant didn’t even swim, just trying to maintain his energy levels through the radiation treatment.

“I just wanted to rest up, but funny enough, the night before the meet I slept 12 hours… so I caught up,” he said. “Mind you the BC records were fairly soft compared to what I’d been swimming; the Canadian records were a real push.”

First of the races was the 50 Fly, with a Canadian record to beat of 52 seconds on the dot.

Grant got 51.

“When I found I got 51, that really buzzed me,” he said, noting that during practice in the Sooke pool, he was initially swimming 58 second Flys. In the end, he says, it all came down to having a good night’s sleep.

“It’s the difference between being rested and being tired,” Grant said.

Some of the records were held for 10 years — another was held for as long as 15 years. Even now he’s trying to believe it.

“I was really surprised to see what could come out of this old body,” he said.

Despite swimming competitively for 22 years, Grant wasn’t always a water athlete – in fact, he was more of a running shoes and pavement sort of breed.

“I used to run in marathons, but then my knee went and had to keep looking for good exercises – so I took up swimming and that was the best thing I ever did,” he said. “Running was still fun, but it was always hurting, or sore.”

The Commonwealth Pool Long Course Meet competition – which was comprised of 188 swimmers -started out with the first age group, 20-24, then goes up by a five year age period after that.

“It’s set up in such a way that you’re swimming against people close to your own age,” Grant said. “You’re really going like hell when you’re in the pool in master swimming, but once you’re out of the pool, there’s a lot of joking and teasing so it’s good fun.”

The next swimming meet isn’t until April – a short course (25 meter pool) as opposed to the long course Grant swam (50 meter pool). Ironically, it’s the short course that’s the hardest.

“Short course, they’re a little tougher, because you have more flip turns in that,” he said. “They give you quicker speed off the wall, but it’s much faster and a lot more intense.”