Australian Olympian Dan Smith Hangs Up Goggles

2016 Olympian Dan Smith of Australia has announced his retirement from the sport of swimming, albeit in quiet fashion.

The 29-year-old freestyle ace had trained under storied Aussie coach Michael Bohl before moving to a non-high performance coach in his lead-up to a would-have-been Tokyo Olympics. Once the Games were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, Smith dug deep and made the difficult decision to say goodbye to swimming.

“I pretty much knew as COVID-19 hit that I was done. It was weird. Like the desire of me wanting to be a swimmer and achieve my goals was just gone,” Smith told SwimSwam.

Within his retirement revealment Instagram post from this week, Smith stated,

“Most things start of with a dream, & for me at 12 I knew I wanted to be the fastest man in the world. Given my talent, drive & ability; in my eyes it wasn’t just a possibility, but a probability. Pursing that came at a cost; enough was never enough, the expectation got stronger, I lost sight of the enjoyment of being in the water, my wellbeing got lost & my identity got wrapped in the sport, which all lead me to a deep level of unfulfillment & brokenness. I tried everything to fill the void & emptiness in me, which lead me down a dark road.

“Coming back to the sport after 4yrs out, I wanted it to be different but it wasn’t long before it became my everything again. Considering where I had come from, I was able to achieve some pretty phenomenal things pre Olympics, which was putting me in a good position to achieve my dream in Rio. Unfortunately, the Olympic year, I started to crack under pressure, where at the trials & then in Rio I didn’t live up to what I was capable of, which hurt me a lot.
My life changed a lot after Olympics; I was treated differently, there was a disconnect between me & the high performance world, I lost ‘friends’, I became old news pretty quickly and felt I had to earn the respect again; which is just some of the nature of the industry. I became pretty bitter at times & spent a lot of time trying to redeem my dream & prove I was capable. I just couldn’t produce anymore which was extremely humbling. I soon discovered how empty & superficial it all was, which helped me discover identity without performance.

“Moving coaches start of 2019 gave me time to refocus. My coach & I did everything we could to help me as a person & build my swimming potential again. The healthier I got, I couldn’t produce like I use to but I was able to get my enjoyment back & give it 1 last go. I gave my career everything I had & I left nothing in the tank.
I owe a lot to my final team (tagged) I know you guys had my heart at your best interest. I’m really sorry we didn’t get the desired outcome. And to my family, for sticking by me through the highs & lows of life & sport, I know it was tough on you guys. My family & team are incredible.
OFFICIALLY DONE🏊🏼‍♂️❌✌🏽”

View this post on Instagram

Most things start of with a dream, & for me at 12 I knew I wanted to be the fastest man in the world. Given my talent, drive & ability; in my eyes it wasn’t just a possibility, but a probability. Pursing that came at a cost; enough was never enough, the expectation got stronger, I lost sight of the enjoyment of being in the water, my wellbeing got lost & my identity got wrapped in the sport, which all lead me to a deep level of unfulfillment & brokenness. I tried everything to fill the void & emptiness in me, which lead me down a dark road. Coming back to the sport after 4yrs out, I wanted it to be different but it wasn’t long before it became my everything again. Considering where I had come from, I was able to achieve some pretty phenomenal things pre Olympics, which was putting me in a good position to achieve my dream in Rio. Unfortunately, the Olympic year, I started to crack under pressure, where at the trials & then in Rio I didn’t live up to what I was capable of, which hurt me a lot. My life changed a lot after Olympics; I was treated differently, there was a disconnect between me & the high performance world, I lost ‘friends’, I became old news pretty quickly and felt I had to earn the respect again; which is just some of the nature of the industry. I became pretty bitter at times & spent a lot of time trying to redeem my dream & prove I was capable. I just couldn’t produce anymore which was extremely humbling. I soon discovered how empty & superficial it all was, which helped me discover identity without performance. Moving coaches start of 2019 gave me time to refocus. My coach & I did everything we could to help me as a person & build my swimming potential again. The healthier I got, I couldn’t produce like I use to but I was able to get my enjoyment back & give it 1 last go. I gave my career everything I had & I left nothing in the tank. I owe a lot to my final team (tagged) I know you guys had my heart at your best interest. I’m really sorry we didn’t get the desired outcome. And to my family, for sticking by me through the highs & lows of life & sport, I know it was tough on you guys. My family & team are incredible. OFFICIALLY DONE🏊🏼‍♂️❌✌🏽

A post shared by Dan Smith (@dan_smith28) on

 

Smith’s ‘Regret Nothing’ tattoo was featured in one of SwimSwam’s first magazine editions, with our covering his roller coaster of a career both in and out of the pool.

After an Ian Thorpe-esque junior career, Smith dipped into a five-year drug and alcohol addiction that sidelined his entire life until 2014. The man went through rehab and with the help of family, friends, and his church was able to get back onto the elite Australian roster for the 2015 FINA World Championships.

He also made the green and gold’s 4x200m free relay for Rio, with the Aussie squad placing 4th at those 2016 Olympic Games. However, Smith missed both the 2017 and 2019 World Championships squads. He was asked to compete as a member of an International Swimming League (ISL) squad for season 1 but says that plans fell through.

Looking ahead, Smith’s goal is to share Jesus Christ’s love and forgiveness to both swimmers and non-swimmers alike. “I want to help swimmers become people, as well as pursue their own dreams,” he said.

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Ghost
29 days ago

Nothing to be ashamed of! Nice career and when it is time, it is time! I am sure the extra year made many pro swimmers debate if their heart was in it!

swimz14
29 days ago

Congrats and good luck. Always loved this video, gorgeous stroke
https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=m3BsRGK9RSQ

Olympian
29 days ago

Bad ass tat

torchbearer
Reply to  Olympian
29 days ago

I thought the one on his arm said TOKYO 2020 at first…I thought that was a bit premature! 🙂

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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