Elly Genest has made getting to the pool a priority for most of her adult life

Just keep swimming, says Agassiz woman

Genest lives life to the fullest in and out of water

It takes a certain kind of dedication to jump into a swimming pool and swim laps daily.

It takes even more determination when that pool is outdoors, exposed to elements — and it’s early morning.

But for Elly Genest, 85, it’s nothing at all.

“I swim because I love it,” she says, smiling ear to ear. Genest is a regular at the Ferny Coombe Pool in Agassiz, right from May to September.

It doesn’t matter the weather. It doesn’t matter what else she has to do that.

She swims. And when Ferny Coombe closes for the winter months, she makes the trek into Chilliwack about twice a week to swim there.

But Genest wasn’t always a swimmer. It was a series of small events that led her to the water, she explains.

When Genest was in her mid-40s, her late husband was stationed in Shilo, MB, and she also worked at the base.

“We had an hour at lunchtime, and all the people they usually had a drink or something,” Genest recalls. “I thought, ‘I don’t enjoy this. I’m going to go over and see if I can swim.'”

It just happened her lunch hour coincided with some free swim time. She jumped right in.

“I couldn’t swim a stroke,” she says, laughing. “I learned by myself. There were people swimming by me. I would hold on, swim, hold on, swim.”

She thought to ask for help.

“The lifeguard was a soldier and he laughed his blooming head off,” she says.

“Why don’t you teach me then?” she asked him.

“Never mind, you’re doing well enough. Keep going,” the lifeguard replied.

So she kept going. She swam every day, and by the time the Genests moved from Shilo to Agassiz, in 1979, she has swam a total of 75 miles.

She still has the certificate and a picture from when she received a medal for her hard work, and determination. When she started working at the base in Chilliwack, she was told she could finish her goal of 100 miles, and earn a gold medal through the same program.

“But every time I had my lunch, the soldiers were using the pool,” she said.

As time went on, Genest ended up raising her grandson, Curtis, here in Agassiz. When he turned three, she started to bring him along for her swims.

So how pleased was she, when that grandson decided to work at a pool? Absolutely delighted.

“He was a lifeguard for seven years,” she said — a position that she had already come to hold in high regard.

“I can truly say, all those years I swam I have never had one lifeguard that was unfriendly or not helpful,” she said. “They were always wonderful people.”

Since Genest gets her swim over with before most people are finishing their morning coffee, she has the day free to do whatever she likes. It’s a good thing, because Genest has a long list of interests.

She is a part of the Harrison Hikers, and hikes twice a week. She’s also a member of the Sunshine Ladies, a group of singers who travel to different care homes to sing for the elderly. In addition to being retired from the Armed Forces, she was also a Sunday school teacher, and volunteered as a Girl Guide leader.

“I’m nev

Just Posted

New surcharge for Harrison boaters

Small boat launch surcharge to fund KHSAR

POLL: How should Harrison deal with goose poop?

Monday’s council meeting raised questions about the best way to handle waste around the beach

Sts’ailes First Nation to vote on land code

Land Code would remove nation from 34 sections of Indian Act

KPU campuses go smoke-free starting Jan. 21 – and that includes vaping

‘We didn’t make this decision lightly’ says prez of the Surrey-based institution

Trial begins for man charged with 2010 murder of Mandy Johnson

Langley single mom was fatally shot while in vehicle in Abbotsford

Find Your Fit tour comes to Agassiz

Gives students hands-on experience with career-planning tools

Input sought for major road works for Maple Ridge

Consultation on Haney Bypass upgrades

Pitt councillors don’t support CP Rail underpass

Gateway projects will need city support says MP Ruimy

Suspected Toronto serial killer targeting gay community arrested

A 66-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in disappearance of two Toronto men

Carpet bowlers have been excluded from BC 55+ Games and Canada 55+ Games

Gold medal carpet bowling winners not able to defend their titles in 2018

No crackdown, just education as BC Ferries’ enacts smoking ban

Fines and extra patrols not happening at this time as ban begins Monday

UPDATE: Police release new footage, launch website in hunt for 13-year-old’s killer

IHIT say no one has been arrested or charged in connection with Marrisa Shen’s death

Rural B.C. students score visit with Canadiens netminder Carey Price

Two students from the Chilcotin can hardly wait to meet hometown hero Carey Price in Montreal.

VIDEO: Elk parade on Vancouver Island is awesome sight

They’re out in force for a morning stroll. Check out some of Youbou’s famous elk.

Most Read