Mieko Nagaoka (長岡美恵子, Nagaoka Mieko, born July 31, 1914) is a Japanese Masters athlete. She is first 100-year-old to complete a 1,500m freestyle swim in a 25m pool. At the age of 105, she is Japan's oldest active swimmer.
|Born||July 31, 1914|
|Residence||Tabuse, Yamaguchi, Japan|
Mieko Nagaoka was born on July 31, 1914 in Yamaguchi, Japan just days after the start of World War I. She first started swimming at 80 years old to recover from a knee injury. In the beginning, Nagaoka didn’t know how to swim. She used to go in to the swimming pool to do exercises for her knee. At 82, she started to learn how to swim on her own. And because she performs in a Noh (a classical Japanese dancing drama) this was also an incentive for her to learn how to swim so that she could stay in shape for the plays.
When she was 84 years old, Nagaoka started Masters swimming in Japan. At 88, she made her first appearance at the Masters Worlds in 2002 in Christchurch, New Zealand and took the bronze in the 50m backstroke. She competed in 2004 in Riccione, Italy where she won three silver medals (50m, 100m and 200m backstroke).
She achieved national recognition in Japan at age 90 when she established a world record in the 800m freestyle. Fresh from her success, she started training with a coach and took private swimming lessons with aims to improve her record-breaking performance.
While she established her first Masters World Record in the 50m backstroke. She currently holds 24 World Records (100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle, 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke in both long and short course, as well as 50m breaststroke in short course.
In 2015 she became the first 100-year-old to complete a 1,500m freestyle swim in a 25m pool. She completed the feat in just over 1 hour and 15 minutes, using backstroke all the way.
Nagaoka trains four times a week for two hours under the tutelage of long-time coach Shintaro Sawada. She likes to swim longer distances because she swims slowly and is able to keep her own pace. She told Japan's Kyodo News agency: "I want to swim until I turn 105 if I can live that long."
In 2016 Nagaoka told AFP “I’m fit as a fiddle,”in an interview after completing the 400 metres freestyle in 26 minutes, 16.81 seconds at a Japan Masters Swimming Association competition in Chiba, on the outskirts of Tokyo. “The secret is to eat well and stay active. It’s no good sitting around at my age. I want to keep swimming until I’m 105 – and beyond that,”
In September 2019 Nagaoka announced her intention to compete at the FINA World Masters Championships held later that month despite injuring her knees in April.
Nagaoka currently lives alone in Tabuse, Yamaguchi, Japan. In Nagaoka’s family, swimming transcends every generation, from her son to grandchildren, and she encourages other swimmers to keep swimming as long as possible. After turning 100 in July 2014, she released a book entitled: I'm 100 years old and the world's best active swimmer.
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