Meet the 83-year-old adventure seeker from Sheffield who swims with sharks

A thrillseeking 83-year-old from Sheffield went swimming with basking sharks – and she may well be the oldest person to complete such a feat.

Monday, 29th July 2019, 2:31 pm
Updated Monday, 29th July 2019, 5:13 pm
Naomi Crowder, 83, gets set for her shark swim, just one of many bucket list journeys she has made around the world.

Naomi Crowder, of Lodge Moor, ticked off the amazing bucket list experience on holiday in the Hebrides, and followed her dip with the sharks by bathing in the magical Fingal’s Cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa.

Naomi enjoyed a high-adventure week with Oban boat tour company Basking Shark Scotland. Company boss Shane Wasik said the mother-of-two, who was the oldest person to do the Loch Lomond Swim in 2017, had no problem taking to the waters off the Isle of Coll for her basking shark experience.

He said: "She's our oldest swimmer to go in with sharks and I don't know for sure, but I'd bet on the same for Fingal's Cave. With the sharks being rare, maybe she's the oldest in the world to swim with a basking shark?

A wave from Naomi as she swims into Fingal's Cave on the isle of Staffa.

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"It's been amazing to see her in action, all our staff have been singing her praises and all hope to be as adventurous and as fit as she is at her age."

Naomi said: "I had a fantastic time, to see a basking shark with its mouth open and to swim in Fingal's Cave was absolutely amazing.

"They couldn't promise that we could swim into the cave because of the sea swell, it was a bit tricky. We were split into two groups and the other group couldn't do it because the swell was too big so I was lucky, it was just magical to swim into Fingal's Cave at Staffa."

The ardent adventure seeker revealed that she had placed her Scottish trip towards the end of her bucket list, because she wanted to tackle the longer journeys first, before she got too old for long haul flights.

She said she has visited around 15 faraway countries, mainly in search of wildlife and conservation experiences, and added: "The Antarctic is my favourite place because of the wildlife and the scenery. We went to the Falklands, we followed in Shackleton's footsteps and saw lots of penguins and elephant seals.

"The most spectacular thing I have ever seen is a live volcano on Tanna island in Vanuatu, in the South Pacific."

The fiesty octogenarian has explored Australia and New Zealand, and said: "I have been bush walking in Zambia and have done conservation work in Africa, working with animals.

"I went bush walking in Zambia when I was seventy, I have worked with elephants in Thailand, I have swum with whale sharks in the Maldives and with humpback whales in Canada.

"In Cambodia I did a building project, I learned how to lay bricks, build walls and dig out foundations and I built a toilet for a family who didn't have one."

The ex-British Telecom worker, who also used to work part time in the Crucible Theatre, said her adventures started when she retired.

Naomi said: "I have a daughter who lives in Australia and a son who lives in London, and I got divorced years ago, so I could please myself what I did.

"I kept seeing these holidays and thought, I wouldn't mind doing that, so I am ‘skiing’ - spending the kids' inheritance.

"Some of my friends are envious of what I am doing but I say to people, you have to do it, if you don't, you just wither away and do nothing."

So is there anything left on her bucket list now? She said: "Travelwise, the only place I haven't been to yet that I would like to go to is Russia."

Naomi entered the New Zealand Masters Games aged 70, which reignited her interest in swimming.