Former Olympic swimmer Helen Smart dies 'suddenly' at 42

August 17, 2023
Ryan Ledendecker

The world lost another healthy athlete who passed away "suddenly," according to her family, adding to a long list of young people who have passed away with no underlying warnings. 

According to Fox News, Helen Smart, a former Olympic swimmer "who also won silver medals at the World Championships and European Championships," died suddenly this week at age 42.

Her death was formally announced by her family and by British Swimming on Monday, with no cause of death known at the time of this writing.

After retiring from a successful Olympic-level swimming career, Smart worked as a teacher at Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School, based in Wigan, England.

"She was so proud"

Smart's legacy as a teacher and an athlete was praised by her husband, Craig, who noted that she was most proud of her accomplishment of becoming headteacher of her school.

"She loved the school, staff, children and parents so much," her husband said, according to the Evening Standard.

He added, "She was so proud to reach her goal of being headteacher. She used to say to me all the time she could never see herself at another school. She was Worsley Mesnes through and through!"

"I remember only last week she said her goal was to get the school to outstanding and that she had the right staff to achieve this. I hope you all keep learning like champions. Please learn from this and live your best life, no regrets," he continued.

"It is with great sadness and regret that I have to announce the sudden death of our beloved headteacher, Mrs. Helen Smart," said Alison Halliwell, the chair of governors at the school.

Tributes pour in

Smart, given her accomplishments in the sport of swimming and her success as a teacher, was remembered fondly by former teammates, teachers, and students across social media.

"I’ve been trying to find the words to say about this but am so shocked by the news, I don’t know what to say," former Olympic swimmer Katy Sexton said in a statement through British Swimming.

She added, "Helen was such a vibrant character, always happy and a great friend and roommate. She was such a dedicated athlete and had an amazing work ethic which she carried into her life outside of sport. She will be greatly missed and my biggest sympathies go to her family."

Smart is survived by her husband Craig, daughter Heidi and son Stanley.

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