GlobalEliana Busch, this 89-year-old swimmer who continues to win medals

Eliana Busch, this 89-year-old swimmer who continues to win medals

At the beginning of March, at the World Masters Championships in Doha, Qatar, she waited in vain for her Japanese rivals who had triumphed at the previous championships organized in Kyushu, Japan, where the Chilean had not gone.

“I was forced to break records to prove that even if I swam alone, I was the best,” remembers Eliana Busch, despite the absence of her rivals, born like her between 1930 and 1934, made the move.

In the end, she won gold in this competition recognized by the International Swimming Federation four times in the 100m and 200m freestyle, 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke.

During this last event, she even broke the record during a world championship by covering the distance in one minute and four seconds.

“If I had swum against men, I would have beaten them,” laughs the woman who will celebrate her 90th birthday in September.

“I don’t like losing. I do everything to win” but “I will have to stop one day. I’m not eternal,” she concedes with a laugh.

Eliana Busch has sport in her blood. She started swimming at the age of nine and by 13 she was already a national champion.

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At the age of 20, she married a cavalry officer and abandoned swimming for horse riding, a discipline in which she also excelled. The living room of her Viña del Mar apartment is filled with paintings and sculptures of horses.

But at the age of 78, she fell from a horse. “I fell while trying to tame an Arabian foal and broke my forearm, collarbone and a few ribs,” she says.

“I had already broken my face several times before, (…) but this time, I really hurt. My children said to me: ‘Mom, if you like competition so much, why not Don’t go back to swimming.”

She returned to the pools and quickly racked up victories in her category: in 2016 at the South American Championship, in 2018 at the Pan American Championships or in 2019 at the World Championship in Gwangju, South Korea.

She has been competing for seven years, all with a pacemaker after a seizure after training.

Eliana Busch trains at least four times a week and teaches swimming lessons to adults at a municipal pool in Viña del Mar that she drives to.

“I want to convey to older people that life is lived until the last minute (…). Do something, you don’t have to be a swimmer, but don’t just lie at home”, she encourages.

His message seems to resonate among his students. “The energy she gives off is wonderful. We are tired, we are exhausted, but we see her go on and on. It’s impressive,” summarizes Patricia Aravena, a 55-year-old caregiver.

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