Defending NCAA Division II Champion Dies During Drury Practice

Drury swimmer Wen Xu (Courtesy: Drury Athletics)

Updated with official statement on Thursday evening:

Drury swimmer “Ariel” Wen Xu passed away on Thursday after suffering what appeared to be a seizure during the team’s practice. Sources tell SwimSwam that her teammates immediately pulled her from the water and administered CPR and AED in an attempt to revive her, but were unable to do so.

According to a statement released by Drury on Thursday evening, paramedics were called immediately and was taken to Mercy Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her next-of-kin have been notified in China.

Xu came to Drury from Shanghai, China as a sophomore, and in 2 seasons with the team made an immediate impact in the pool. In 2016 as a junior, she broke the school record and NCAA D2 record, and won the NCAA Division II National title, in the 50 free, and also won titles as part of the 200 medley and freestyle relays.

Drury has completed its regular season meets, and are next scheduled to swim at the GLVC Championships from February 8th-11th.

Statement released by Drury University on Thursday evening:

It is with a heavy heart that Drury University notified our campus community this evening that a member of the Panther family has died.

Wen Xu, 22, a swimmer and international student from Shanghai,China, was pronounced dead this evening at Mercy Hospital. Xu, who goes by the American name Ariel, was with the team in swim practice this afternoon when she experienced a medical emergency. Paramedics were called immediately. Ariel was taken to Mercy and pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Her next of kin has been notified in China.

Wen was an Advertising/PR major and was a decorated member of the women’s swimming team. She held several records, including events in the Breech Pool, Great Lakes Valley Conference, and NCAA-II National Meets. She was a two-time all-academic all-conference award winner, which means she maintained a 3.30 cumulative GPA.

Drury’s counselors are offering support to Wen’s teammates and her roommate this evening, and we are the counselors and our university chaplain are available to the entire student body, as well as faculty and staff, for any needed support. A celebration of life will be planned for the campus community at a later date.

“This is a terrible tragedy, and we ask that the community keep our students and Ariel’s family in their thoughts and prayers. Our condolences are with Ariel’s family, and with her teammates and coaches,” said Drury President Dr. Tim Cloyd.


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So sorry for your loss. Our son visited this fall and everyone was so great. Thinking of all the Panthers tonight.




Wow. My heart goes out to her, the team, amd her family.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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