Olympic Swimming Medalist Sarah Wellbrock Retires, Citing Health

Former World Record holder and Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Koehler Wellbrock has announced her retirement a few months after pulling out of this summer’s competition with an injury.

The 28-year-old also missed last year’s World Championships while focusing on her law studies, saying at the time that she was still focused on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Wellbrock posted her goodbye on Instagram on Wednesday, punctuating the post with #swammer and #readyforsomethingnew

It’s time to say Goodbye

Swimming has been a part of me for almost my entire life and has defined my everyday life for the last 18 years. But for over 2 years my body can’t take the stress anymore. I gave everything for an Olympic medal and was rewarded but for my own good I have to draw a line now. It was an incredibly hard decision. I always thought it would be easier. But I know (being rational) it’s the best decision. Of course, countless tears have been shed within this decision-making process and there will certainly be some more.

I want to thank my partners of the years for walking this path with me. Above all but also to my coaches who have accompanied my career, lastly @coach_bernd. All my achievements are the work of each and every one of them and I wish I could bring you and me more of that. Most importantly was, is and will always be my daddy who sacrificed EVERYTHING so that I could walk my path the way I did.

I will miss all of this so much!

On that note, thank you.

Besides her Olympic medal, which came in the 1500 free, Wellbrock was also the 2019 World Championship silver medalist in the 1500 free, World Championship gold medalist in the team open water event, and is a 5-time European Championship medalist.

In November 2019, she also set her one-and-only World Record in the 1500 free in short course meters. She swam 15:18.01 to break Mireia Belmonte’s 2014 mark of 15:19.71. Wellbrock’s record stood until October 2022, when Katie Ledecky toasted it to the tune of a 10 second improvement.

Wellbrock made up one half of a distance swimming power couple with Olympic gold medalist Florian Wellbrock, 25. Wellbrock, who won the 10k in Tokyo and also took bronze in the 1500 free, is still actively training and competing. That made them one of the few swimming couples, among a growing list, to both own Olympic medals.



In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10 months ago

Next swimswam article? All swimming couples with Olympic medals from both? The wellbrocks, obviously, but manadeou and Blume are next in what I know. Idk, could be a fun article.

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  Jason
10 months ago

mark stockwell and tracy caulkins

kromo and weertman if you count open water

Last edited 10 months ago by Emily Se-Bom Lee
10 months ago

Never an easy decision to walk away from the sport we love, but at the end of the day, everyone has to do what is best for them. Congrats on a fantastic swim career and hope she has a successful law career.

Tracy Flick
10 months ago

See the photo of her raising her arm.

While I’m not a fan of big gaudy tattoos (hers is almost like Caeleb’s leg one), I greatly admire its message:

“Jeder ist seines Glückes Schmied,” or

“Everyone creates their own destiny.”

Best wishes, Sarah!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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, …

Read More »