Courtesy of Swimming World Magazine.

Shoko Yonezawa has been earning all kinds of accolades recently.

In addition to being named as an International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Masters Swimmer, the Japanese phenom was also recognized as one of Swimming World Magazine’s Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year for 2015 after setting a total of 39 FINA Masters Swimming world records so far in her career.

The 80-year-old started modestly in the open water. Born into a family of six children before World War II in southern Japan, she was left without much parental supervision that led her and her brothers and sisters to spent most of their free time playing in a local river in their native Kumamoto Prefecture.

Their play time, especially swimming back and forth against the current, was to prove beneficial in her later years as a competitive masters swimmer. “There was nothing much else to do in those days. I was in and out of the river all day long.” But all those cross-river swims against the currents paid off once she reached her late 40’s when she became interested in masters swimming.

She makes an obvious point about masters swimming and open water swimming – something that is not necessarily shared by non-athletes on dryland. “Nobody who is in masters swimming hides their age…because there are more opportunities as you grow older.”

How true, how true.

Yonezawa is shown above swimming fast at a local masters swim meet in Yokohama, Japan.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association