Aussie Olympic Gold Medalist Chelsea Hodges Announces Surprise Retirement

In a surprising turn of events on the Australian swimming front, 22-year-old Chelsea Hodges has announced her retirement from competitive swimming just over 60 days away from the 2024 Olympic Games.

The breaststroker who helped Australia win gold in the 4x100m medley relay at the 2020 Games in Tokyo revealed her decision via Instagram on May 24th.

“Thank you Swimming. It’s with a very heavy heart I announce my retirement from competitive swimming.

“It’s been a challenging 18 months and retiring now is not how I hoped this chapter of my life would end however I believe I’ve made the right decision.

“Swimming has given me so much in life and I could not be more grateful for the people, experiences and life long memories I have through this sport.

Hodges continued, “I had to make the decision to retire or ruin my chance to be as fit and as healthy as I would like in my future. Ultimately I have to do what’s best for my future and listen to what my body has been desperately trying to tell me.

“I am lucky to have the absolute best support team who helped me make this decision as well as the best support network in my family and friends.

“I would not have had the career I am so proud of without my coach of 15 year@beswimcoaching @southportolympicswimclub , my family and the person who puts up with me the most @nicroselt I could not express any more gratefulness to @finisaustralia @finisswim and @lskd for how supportive they have been through this whole journey and how they continue to support my life journey.”

Hodges missed the 2023 championships season, withdrawing from the Australia Championships, Australian Trials and World Championships in Fukuoka after undergoing surgery to repair torn cartilage in her right hip.

That was a disappointing turn after a promising 2022, the year Hodges broke the Australian record in the 50 breast at the Australian Trials with a 30.15 before lowering that mark to 30.05 at the Commonwealth Games, where she took bronze.

She went on to help Australia’s 200 medley relay team break the world record (1:43.35) at the Short Course World Championships in Melbourne.

Hodges made her post-surgery debut in October of last year at the Country Swimming Championships where the Southport Olympic Swim Club swimmer clocked a time of 31.45 in the 50m breast and 1:08.80 in the 100m.

She was entered in last month’s Australian Open Championships but wound up not racing as a signal something wasn’t going according to plan.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Hodges said of her meet withdrawal, “I went home and cried for many hours. I think I knew my swimming was done.

“Being in pain all the time is very tiring. You are mentally and physically drained. I just wanted the pain to end. It feels like someone is grinding your bones any time you move and drilling a hole into your leg.

“Once it started getting sore again, I think I knew deep down that Paris wasn’t going to happen. I’m not ecstatic that I have to retire … but once I knew what my life would look like if I continued, it was an easy decision.”

The situation reared its head at the Japan Open last year where Hodges reportedly limped to the blocks.

“In December, my surgeon said to me that I’d only have so many breaststroke kicks left. I’d done damage to my femur. We needed to make sure that my breaststroke kick lasted until Paris. Unfortunately, I used up all those kicks.” (SMH)

Hodges Dolphins teammate Jenna Strauch also suffered an injury last year which rendered a big hole in the breaststroking discipline for the nation.

15-year-old Sienna Toohey has been making strides and even Kaylee McKeown‘s name had been tossed around as a breaststroking replacement. Mainstay Abbey Harkin is still among the Aussie arsenal so we’ll see how things unfold at next month’s Olympic Trials.

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han qihao
30 days ago

I was very impressed by her performance in Tokyo, because we all know that the Australian women’s breaststroke is not very strong, and it is likely to be pulled away by the United States, but just because she stood up to this stroke and kept the hope of continuing to compete in the next two strokes, her performance was crucial to winning in Tokyo

30 days ago

Rly unfortunate situation to have to make with this. Best of luck to Chelsea in the future.

On another note this only widens the door for youngsters like Sienna Toohey to make her first Olympic team and with the amount she’s dropped over the past few months she has a better shot at the team now. I feel their breastroke is in a solid place currently.

30 days ago

So sad she’s retired but happy she had a great career in such a short time

30 days ago

Thanks for everything, Chelsea. You helped make the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay at the last Olympics the most exciting swimming relay final at those games.

To all of our American friends, if only Weitzeil had left the blocks just a fraction earlier, what could have been . . . Ah well. You may not have gold, but you sure have downvoting.

Southerly Buster
30 days ago

Looking at Chelsea’s 2022 Short Course Worlds 4×50 Medley gold medal. There were similarities with her Olympic gold. Again she was 9th in an individual event, just missing the final, 0.74 slower than her American rival’s medal winning time.

Again she overperformed on a relay with a 29.11 split, only 0.11 slower than Lilly King to keep Australia in a race where the winning margin ended up being 0.06 seconds.

This time though there was an added bonus….. a World Record!

30 days ago

The worst thing about this news is now we have *more* – even *MORE* weeks of ‘Kaylee should swim breast’ comments.

Reply to  Oceanian
30 days ago

I wonder if she’s aware of some SwimSwam fans’ push for her to swim breast for the medley relay in Paris.

Last edited 30 days ago by Martini
Reply to  Martini
28 days ago

Just like I wonder if Summer is aware she *must* swim the 800 free lol

At least we know young Sienna is here though I probably hope she gives SwimSwam a miss until trials are done.

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  Oceanian
30 days ago

If it was going to happen it would have happened in Fukuoka. There’s just no way now unless the breaststrokers absolutely bomb. But I find it hard to believe no one will be a 1:06.8

Reply to  Oceanian
30 days ago

It’s Iona time.

Reply to  Braden Keith
29 days ago

Well yeah I rekon if Kaylee does the brst I honestly believe Mollie has a 57.70 in her.

30 days ago

Sad to hear but a correct, if unpleasant, decision taken. Making a 2nd Olympics would’ve been nice but with these issues looking to be a pipedream. Swimming is, essentially, only one chapter of one’s life; may she enjoy a happy and rewarding one ….. and hopefully as painfree as possible !

30 days ago
Reply to  ooo
30 days ago

Go Hodges!!!!!

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Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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