FITNESS guru Ken Heathcote has triumphed again in the Great North Swim – just five weeks short of his 84th birthday.

The Bradshaw man was the oldest competitor in the 80-plus age group in the 5k event and came first. He was such an inspiration to the other around 10,000 swimmers taking part over the weekend event that he was asked to make a speech before the early waves set off to swim the length of Lake Windermere in the Lake District.

He cited The Dunkirk Mentality and called on the swimmers to look back to the nation’s war heroes for “tenacity, courage, strength of mind and the never give up mentality.”

In spite of cold conditions which meant the lake temperature was a low 14 degrees, Ken completed the swim in 2 hrs 32 mins 45 seconds putting him in 479th place overall.

Ken has taken part in this swim and others in the Lake District before and this time raised more than £800 for Cancer UK from his efforts. A film crew from Northern Visuals of Hull followed Ken’s progress throughout as part of a documentary about his life.

Ken became known as the Father of Fitness when he started the UK’s first gym as we know it today in Bolton more than 50 years ago.

Bolton Health Club became a blueprint for modern gyms and Ken became an international fitness legend, co-founding the Fitness Industry Association.

Today, he is still contributing to the health and fitness world, giving motivational speeches and writing books. His latest is “We’re Going to Live Forever” and focuses on keeping fit into older age. He is also involved with Age UK.

His own example includes a regular fitness routine involving swimming five times a week. Ken commented: “Age in all aspects is how we perceive it. Ultimately, it is about how we manage age. It is not just about growing old.”

Caption 1: SETTING OFF – Ken (hand on rail) in good spirits just before setting off on the 5k Great North Swim at Lake Windermere

Caption 2: TRIUMPHANT FINISH – Ken completes his swim - first in the 80-plus category and the oldest competitor