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Octogenarian used to tackling rough seas

Thursday, 31st January, 2013

Phillip Vitols with parents Inge (81) and Richard (79) training for their 1km ocean swim this weekend. Phillip Vitols with parents Inge (81) and Richard (79) training for their 1km ocean swim this weekend.

By Erica Visser

At 81 years old, most people would be spending their Sundays relaxing indoors, but not Inge Vitols.

Mrs Vitols is about to swim a kilometre in the rough ocean with her 79-year-old husband Richard and son Phillip, a local doctor, in the Cole Classic at Manly Beach at Sydney.

The 30-year-old annual event on Sunday is the swimming equivalent of the City to Surf fun run.

This will be the fourth time that the Vitols family has participated in the fundraising event together.

Inge and Richard live in Sydney but have spent the past three weeks in Broken Hill training with Phillip.

"We all enjoy swimming and my parents and I have often gone on holidays, always swimming in the ocean," Phillip said.

"I think it's amazing that they were prepared to give something like that a go."

Phillip said that his mother had previously been the oldest woman in the event, which he said was a great feat.

"It's a very good example for people of any age to just give it a go," he said.

"In a previous event another swimmer was about to give up but then she saw my mum swimming and thought, 'if she can do it, so can I.'

"She's been the oldest female competitor since she started swimming it so I'm pretty sure she will maintain that status quo."

Phillip said that he hoped his parents' achievement would inspire locals to get involved with physical activity.

"I suppose one of the messages here is just to be involved and compete for the fun of it."

Phillip said that he also thought BH children should compete in ocean swims.

"It'd be great for kids here to go and participate in an ocean swim in the future," he said.

"It'd be a totally different experience because they're very good at swimming in a pool but the ocean is very different.

"It would be up to the swimming clubs to arrange, though.

"It would be great to get the community involved. I know we don't have an ocean here, but maybe we can do a Menindee Lakes swim."

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