9 September 2021

Ellie Simmonds OBE announces retirement from international swimming

Five-time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds OBE has announced her retirement from international swimming after a stellar Paralympic career spanning four Games.

Simmonds, then just 13, was the youngest member of the ParalympicsGB team at Beijing 2008 and quickly made her mark, winning the 100m freestyle S6 before breaking her own world record by more than seven seconds for a second title in the 400m freestyle S6.

She then won five European golds in 2009, four World Championship titles in 2010 and added another two European golds (both in world records) in 2011 – among numerous world and European titles that she would go on to claim during her remarkable and memorable career in the pool.

Ellie greets the crowds at the London 2012 parade

At London 2012, Simmonds held her nerve under the pressure of public expectation and a fierce rivalry with American Victoria Arlen to secure 400m freestyle S6 and 200m individual medley SM6 golds as well as 100m freestyle S6 silver and 50m freestyle S6 bronze medals.

The Walsall-born swimmer was one of the most recognised faces of the London Games and captured the hearts of the British public with her incredible performances and tearful celebrations.

Further success came her way at Rio 2016 as she safely retained her 200m individual medley SM6 title in a time of 2:59.81 - the first S6 swimmer to dip below the three-minute mark. She also won bronze in the women’s 400m freestyle S6, losing the title that she won in Beijing and London to Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Mereshko, and bringing her Paralympic medal tally up to eight.

Inspire a generation: Ellie and Maisie Summers-Newton

Tokyo 2020 saw Simmonds lose out to British teammate Maisie Summers-Newton in the 100m breaststroke SB6 and 200m medley SM6 finishing in fourth and fifth place respectively, while in the 400m freestyle S6 she finished in fifth place.

Announcing her retirement, the 26-year-old said: “Being a Paralympian has changed my life. I’ve made the best of friends, travelled the world and met the most amazing and inspirational of people – all while having the time of my life.”

“To all my GB teammates past, and those currently on the team, thank you! I can’t wait to watch you smash it in the future. I love swimming and I’ll still be found in the pool, but now I’ll be able to do without the 04:30 alarm!”

ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe OBE said: “It has been an absolute delight to watch Ellie achieve such great – and highly deserved - success over the last 13 years. Her impressive achievements in the pool were matched by her infectious personality out of the water and it was no surprise she became a role model for so many.

“Ellie’s contribution to the ParalympicsGB team went well beyond her performances in the water and I am immensely proud of all that she has achieved. I wish her well for whatever the future holds and have no doubt she will excel in whatever she goes on to do next.”

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