NCAA Record Holder Simon Burnett Retires

  6 Braden Keith | November 06th, 2012 | Featured, International, News

British Champion and 7-time Commonwealth Record Holder Simon Burnett has officially retired, British Swimming reported yesterday. Burnett currently lives in the United States with his wife, and fellow elite swimmer, Whitney Burnett.

Burnett, who in 2006 was the Commonwealth Champion in the 100 free, garnered perhaps his biggest claim-to-fame in 2005. That year, at a mid-season invite, he swam a 1:32.22 in the 200 free to blow away the old NCAA and U.S. Open records in the race. The previous marks had been held by legendary American swimmer Matt Biondi at 1:33.03: 17 years earlier.

What was especially notable was that this swim was done mid-year (though at Arizona, mid-year meant big-rest), but it was done in the “B” final of a meet that he wasn’t even swimming that well at.

He would go on to win the NCAA crown that year, his 2nd in the event, and in 2006 would take the mark down to a then-unthinkable 1:31.20, one of the few records anywhere that still stands from prior to 2008 and the rubber suits.

Burnett made an Olympic final in 2004, and though he was on a relay in his final games in front of a home crowd in London, he still has indicated some disappointment that he didn’t make the qualifying times for the individual 200 at Britain’s trials, tweeting “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to deliver today.”

I think fans of British Swimming, Arizona Swimming, and great swimming will all agree that no apologies are necessary.

Leave a Reply

6 Comments on "NCAA Record Holder Simon Burnett Retires"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
3 years 11 months ago

I had the pleasure of meeting Simon at GWG’s dinner in Charlotte last year, and then Whitney as well at Nationals. Lovely people both of them, very much class acts, and I wish them all the best as they start on this new phase of their lives.

John Foster
3 years 11 months ago

I remember standing next to Nort (Who coached Biondi to that 1:33.03) during that race at the Texas Invite my first year at Cal…it was a helluva swim! Best to him and Whitney!

Sam Kendricks
3 years 11 months ago

I had the pleasure of announcing many of Simon’s (and Whitney’s) races over the years. including that 1.32.22 in the B Finals at the Texas Invite.

As I remember, I think Simon went 1.37+ in the prelims, which was pretty dang good for a morning swim that time of year, but I thought he might go a 1:36 or so. He had a stellar 50 free the night before so I should have ready for him to pop a good swim.

The crazy part from my end was that as the meet announcer, I nearly missed that race call. Shortly after the race began some meet personnel began asking me questions and then I did a bit of last minute prep for the A final. As his B final race progressed, it was pretty quiet in the building. I remember that somewhere during the last 50 I picked up the race call. Nobody was near Simon which was my first clue he was cranking it out. I looked up at the scoreboard with about 15 yards to go and saw 1.26 on the running time and I about fell out of my chair as I realized that Simon was going to swim a historic time.

I don’t think I have ever seen a better mid-season swim. I always felt bad that I did not do as good a job as I could have in pushing the crowd and Simon during that race. Not many folks saw that swim. I was glad I was one of them….even though it was only the last few yards. 🙁

From that point on, I was always on my toes whenever Simon was in the water, including prelims. Simon Burnett is one of the best racers ever! We were lucky to have him compete in the States during the prime of his career.

Is it true that Simon was the person who invented the Wildcat hand gesture that their fans now use?

I hope I am still around to announce a race or two for Burnett kids. Maybe a match race against the Grevers kids someday?

3 years 11 months ago

I believe Simon did in fact invent the wildcat gesture the team uses today.

3 years 11 months ago

Here’s ESPN’s coverage of Simon’s 200 free in 2006…

Sam Kendricks
3 years 11 months ago

That is an awesome shot of the Arizona coaching staff after Simon’s swim. There were few “Wows” being said in that group! Thanks for the video. A fine tribute!


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

Read More »