WOWSA - Greta Andersen Loves Life

WOWSA – Greta Andersen Loves Life

Greta Andersen was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) during a TV interview. The interview focused on Greta’s Swim School in Los Alamitos, California which is going marvelously strong. Her force of personality and her sweet, but stern, methodology quickly enables children and infants to be safe and comfortable in the water.

Watching the infants swim across the pool by themselves can be nerve-wracking for parents, but Greta remains unwavering in her commands: “kick, kick, kick” … “let the child swim, he is not going to stop in the middle [of the pool]“.

Back in Greta‘s day did she follow her own advice. Greta not only swam with the best of those in her era – from the late 1940s to the early 1960s – but she beat them in the open water, men and women alike. Five times in the English Channel, where she won the famous Butlin swims in the 1950s (see trophy above), the first double-crossing of the Catalina Channel and two Olympic medals stamped Greta’s mark on history.

And, she is still going strong in the water. “I am 83 years old and I am still in the water 7, 8, 9 hours a day. It keeps me young. I love teaching these children.”

“I am healthy, my teeth are still white and I can still do the English Channel if I wanted to
,” said Greta with a deep laugh and wide smile. “But I don’t want to…all these medals and awards and swims and people who I met…it was a wonderful experience, but I want to be here to teach these children.”

Winning the gold medal in 1948 changed my life. I was able to swim all over the world and meet many people. I came here to Long Beach [California] and started to earn US$150 per month, teaching. I used to practice 10 miles (16K) per day out in Long Beach, without goggles.”

With her zest for life and sharing her love of the water with subsequent generations, it are two things for certain: Greta is one of a kind and they don’t make swim trophies like they used to.

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