She has 35 aQuellé Midmar Mile medals; she has competed in KwaZulu-Natal and South African masters swimming galas; she is the holder of many records and she is ranked in the top 10 female swimmers in her age group in the world. Looking at her long list of accomplishments in both the pool and in open water, it’s not hard to see why Bev Shuttleworth says that she was born to swim!
Bev, who will be making her debut in the 71-80 age category at the 2019 aQuellé Midmar Mile, recalls that she started swimming competitively at the age of seven. “My brothers and I were members of the Penguins Swimming Club in the ’50s and ’60s,” Bev recalls. During my time as a pupil at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School between 1960 and 1964, I represented Natal for the first time in the South African Swimming Championships.”
After leaving school, Bev trained to be a teacher, and used her love for all things aquatic to lead the Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School team on a whopping 36-year winning streak in the local Inter Schools Swimming Gala. She also got a taste of being a coach outside of the school environment, coaching swimmers from Penguins Swimming Club, together with her son Tony. Bev’s successes as a swimming teacher followed her from GHS to St John’s DSG, where she later took up a post.
There is a special spot for open water swimming in Bev’s heart, and she usually finishes in the top five in her age group category. “I’ve also won my category a number of times,” she elaborated. “This usually happens when I have moved up to the next age category.”
Bev was among the first to enter the 2019 aQuellé Midmar Mile, giving herself lots of time to work towards her goal of finishing first in her category next February. She hopes to be out of the water in under 36 minutes. Of course, this type of goal needs to come with an action plan, and Bev trains four times a week, swimming approximately 2.5 kilometres in every session.
When asked what advice she would give to a first-time aQuellé Midmar Mile swimmer, Bev emphasises the importance of starting training far in advance, preferably with a training group. “Practise in the dam beforehand if you can,” she advises. “If you’re nervous, or you’re swimming for the first time, use one of the race’s freely-available safe swimmer devices.”
With her talent and tenacity, Bev will be a force to be reckoned with in the 71-80 category! Nobody should be surprised if you see her on the podium at prize giving.