Former Olympic swimmer dies suddenly on Lake District family holiday

Former Olympic swimmer Helen Smith dies suddenly on Lake District family holiday, leaving two young children behind. Mirror
Former Olympic swimmer Helen Smith dies suddenly on Lake District family holiday, leaving two young children behind. Mirror 

Former Olympic swimmer Helen Smith tragically passed away during a family holiday in the Lake District, a location she held dear. 

The mum-of-two, once an Olympic athlete and now a headteacher, met an untimely demise after retiring to bed.

Helen’s family is grappling with the sudden loss, remembering her as a beloved sister, mother, wife, and daughter. Fondly described as someone who “lit up every room,” the 42-year-old former swimmer was hailed for her radiant smile and ever-positive presence.

Helen Smith, hailing from Wigan, embarked on a Lake District trip with her parents, husband, children, and extended family to celebrate her brother Rob’s 40th birthday. The holiday commenced with paddleboarding by Lake Coniston on August 11, and plans for ghyll scrambling the next day. The Lake District was Helen’s cherished haven, often referred to as a place where she felt at home and found happiness.

Nicola Hill, related through marriage, conveyed the shock felt by the family. Helen’s sudden passing was described as a “nightmare,” an event that felt unreal and hard to believe. Helen’s deep connection to the Lake District was evident through her marriage ceremony, 40th birthday celebration, and even her hen party.

Helen Smith’s life was punctuated by accomplishments. She swam for Team GB in the Sydney 2000 Olympics, securing medals in various competitions, including the Commonwealth Games and World Short Course Championships. Helen’s father was also an educator, and she followed in his footsteps, becoming a dedicated headteacher at Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School.

Nicola fondly remembered Helen’s ceaseless enthusiasm and work ethic, traits instilled during her swimming career and carried into her teaching profession. Helen’s optimism and vibrant spirit brightened any room she entered, and her dedication to her work and family was unwavering.

In the wake of her passing, the family is rallying to establish a memorial in the Lake District, a place that held profound significance for Helen. Nicola expressed gratitude for the overwhelming response, showcasing the depth of love and impact Helen had on those around her.

As tributes pour in from fellow athletes, including Sharron Davies and Mark Foster, Helen’s legacy endures. Her school and local swimming club have commemorated her, reflecting on her inspiration for the swimming community.

In the face of this tragic loss, Helen Smith’s family seeks solace in remembering her vibrant spirit and seeks to create a memorial that not only honours her but also captures her love for selfies and the Lake District’s serene beauty.


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