Former Team GB Olympic swimmer Helen Smart dies ‘suddenly’ aged 43

A former Team GB Olympic swimmer has ‘suddenly’ handed away on the age of 43.

Helen Smart was a world class aggressive swimmer and backstroke specialist who received a bronze medal on the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and silver medals on the World and European Championships.

After representing Great Britain on the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she determined to retire and turn into a headteacher at Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School on Clifton Street in Wigan.

She has been described as an ‘inspiration to so many in the swimming world’ who was essentially the most ‘amazing person’.

Alison Halliwell, the college’s chairman of the board, posted a press release on Facebook: ‘It is with great sadness and regret that I must announce the sudden passing of our beloved Headteacher, Mrs. Helen Smart.

Former Olympic swimmer Helen Smart has ‘suddenly’ handed away aged 43 after retiring from the game to turn into a head instructor

Helen dives on her solution to quickest time within the 200m backstroke heats on the XVI Commonwealth Games

“Our sincere condolences go out to Helen’s family at this very difficult time. I know this news will come as a shock and cause great sadness to our community.

“I want to assure you that the Worsley Mesnes School Board is working with the council and the school to ensure that our children, staff and parents receive the necessary support over the coming weeks.

“Further information/updates will be issued as they become available.”

Helen’s husband Craig Smart commented on the submit: “She loved the school, staff, children and parents so much.

“She was so proud to have achieved her goal of becoming a head teacher. She always told me she would never see herself in any other school. She was Worsley Mesnes through and through!

‘I remember last week when she said her goal was to make the school excellent and she had the right staff to achieve it! I hope you all continue to learn like champions.

“Please learn from this and live your best life, no regrets, take lots of pictures, make memories and keep smiling like Helen always did!” Love to you all! X’

In addition to profitable quite a few medals all through her profession, Helen positioned fifteenth within the 200m backstroke on the 2000 Olympics.

She was additionally a taking part in member and was an integral a part of the Pemberton Old Wigan Band for over 30 years.

Some of Helen’s closest teammates within the pool additionally shared their reminiscences of their “inspiring, vibrant, cheerful, gracious, funny and kind” buddy whom they affectionately referred to as DD.

Helen celebrates her victory within the girls’s 200m backstroke, the place she broke the British document

Helen (proper) laughs with Australia’s Giaan Rooney after setting a brand new Commonwealth document within the girls’s 100m backstroke

Helen pictured exterior her college, Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School, the place she is a head instructor

She swam on the 2000 Sydney Olympics underneath her maiden title Helen Don-Duncan

Helen additionally received quite a few medals throughout her profession

Rachael Ashcroft, who swam alongside Helen within the Lancashire England and British groups, mentioned she was fortunate sufficient to name Helen her buddy for 32 years.

“Helen was special — the type of person you want your kids to grow up to be,” she mentioned.

“From the moment I met her, aged 11, at the Everton Park Sports Center I immediately liked her. I think we bonded over our somewhat unusual and unique last names and, of course, our love of swimming. I just found her easy going especially when I was so nervous before joining.

“Helen’s steely determination and natural competitive spirit have always inspired me. We’ve often competed against each other, but somehow it always felt like we were competing with each other and helping each other along the way.

Her achievements of countless British records, British titles, European, Commonwealth, World medals and achieving her Olympic dream were the result of her discipline, dedication, dedication and belief in herself.

Despite her success, she was always humble and level-headed, always helping others who had a bad race or not achieving what they wanted, rather than focusing on herself. I know she picked me up in bitter disappointment a few times and made me laugh.

‘I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about Helen and how could that be. She was always kind, attentive and took care of everyone, especially me.

The end of Helen’s swimming career didn’t mean the end of her focus and drive.

Helen and Katy Sexton are interviewed by television after a race

Helen (far right) arrives with other members of the British swim team on the Gold Coast, Australia, for a pre-Olympic training camp

From left to right Sarah Price, Katy Sexton, Helen and Joanna Fargus before competing in the Women’s 200m Backstroke

Several other people posted on Facebook that Helen was “so caring” and “amazing.”

One particular person wrote: “Devastating news. I am grateful to have been taught by a great teacher and a beautiful soul.”

Tyldesley Swimming & Water Polo Club additionally paid tribute saying: ‘Sad news over the weekend of Olympian Helen Smart’s sudden passing.

Helen was an inspiration to so many within the swimming world. Our ideas are with your complete Smart/DonDuncan household presently.”

A spokesman for Pemberton Old Wigan Band mentioned: ‘We are all heartbroken and our love and ideas are with Craig and the youngsters.

With her enthusiasm and pleasure of taking part in, Helen was ecstatic because the band received the Second Section North West Area title in 2022, adopted by a superb second place within the National Final and promotion to the First Section for the primary time in band historical past.

“Helen brought her champion spirit and inspiring teaching methods to every rehearsal and thrived in developing the next generation of players.”

No additional particulars have been disclosed.