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Senior swims his way to health and happiness
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When Huang Youjun's doctors received his medical report recently, they thought the labs had made a mistake.

The results seemed to belong to a young athlete, not a 78-year-old man.

"I thought we were given the wrong report for Huang, because his bones seemed to be comparable to a young sportsman," the doctor who carried out the medical examination for Huang said.

The resident of Chongqing municipality is understandably proud of his health.

"My medical report is good because I have been swimming every day for 20 years, in many rivers all over the country," the septuagenarian said.

Time and place have also proven to be no barrier to his health regime.

Huang said in the past two decades, he has taken to the waters of surface-frozen rivers in northeast China, the seas off Hainan Island in the south and even the waters off Taiwan Province in the southeast.

"I am the oldest to have swum in the rivers, lakes and oceans all over the country, and I plan to swim till I'm 100," Huang declared.

Water seems to have always been a large part of Huang's life.

He was born near the Jialing River and liked swimming at an early age, but could not swim as much as he wanted because of a busy job at a local government department.

In 1987, deteriorating health while working at the Chongqing Municipal People's Congress changed all that.

"I suffered from insomnia, fatigue and pain in the joints. Sometimes I could not even go to work," Huang said.

Huang decided to swim regularly.

He embarked on his new regime in summer and initially stopped when the weather turned cold.

"I made some friends during my swimming sessions and they encouraged me to continue swimming in winter," Huang said.

"After a few attempts one winter, I was surprised that the neurasthenia and periarthritis that bothered me for years had gone away and my health improved," Huang said.

Since then, Huang swims every morning for half an hour, without fail.

"Swimming for me is indispensable now, like food and clothing," he said.

"I feel very uncomfortable if I cannot get to swim for even a single day."

Taking part in swim meets countrywide since 1990 fueled the senior's ambitions of swimming all over China.

Huang has swum in rivers and lakes in 31 provinces and municipalities in the mainland, and in seas off Hong Kong and Macao.

"I wanted to swim in Taiwan for a long time but could not make this dream come true for many reasons," Huang said.

In April last year, the Taiwan Adult Swimming Association organized the Olympic Hengchun Open Water Swimming for All and sent invitations to the National Winter Swimming Committee on the mainland.

"I applied soon after I heard the news and successfully passed the selection," Huang said.

"I felt so happy when I jumped into the waters off Taiwan because I finally realized my dream of swimming all over the country."

(China Daily January 2, 2008)

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