Queenie Nichols, the director of U.S. Paralympics Swimming, announced her retirement on Friday afternoon in an email sent to athletes, coaches, and staff of the U.S. Paralympic swimming team. Her retirement is effective May 15th, 2020.
Nichols began with U.S. Paralympic Swimming in 2005 as the meet manager for the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Championships. She was selected as the assistant team leader for the 2008 Paralympic Games and the head team leader for the 2012 London Games.
She took over the U.S. Paralympic swimming program in 2013, and in 2015, she was made the head coach of Team USA at the 2015 IPC World Para-Swimming Championships.
Prior to her work with the USOPC, Nichols spent 22 years working in special education as an administrator and teacher and was also an assistant swim coach with Rocket Aquatics in Syracuse, New York.
At the 2016 Summer Paralympics, the first for the Americans with Nichols in charge of the program, the team finished 4th in the medal standings with 14 gold, 14 silver, and 9 bronze medals. That tally of 37 medals was very similar to the 41 that they won in 2012 (where Nichols was still heavily involved with the program).
Nichols’ Full Letter Announcing Her Pending Retirement Is Below:
COVID-19 has created a situation none of us could have imagined. Though it’s been difficult for everyone to stop everything, it has allowed time to reflect. Through this reflection I have come to understand even more how important it is to make the most of the time we have. My family has always been the most important thing in the world to me. They have always supported my work with Paralympic Swimming and been excited for each milestone we have reached. My retirement was always planned to be after Tokyo, but I have come to realize that my time now needs to be with my family. (I’m not getting any younger!). It’s been a difficult decision, that has been on my mind since we heard they were rescheduling Tokyo. I know this is short notice for all of you, but I have decided to retire effective May 15, 2020.
I have been extremely lucky to have worked for an organization where I get to meet so many athletes, coaches, staff and parents who are dedicated to making the world a better place through sport. When I started many of you were just beginning in the pipeline, young and eager to be the best. I have watched you work hard and put everything into your training. I have also had the privilege to work with many seasoned athletes that are fine tuning their training and continue to break records. You amaze me every time I watch you race. All this has paid off, and you are ready to embark on a great journey headed to the biggest stage in the world. It’s been my honor to work with all of you.
I am leaving you in good hands. Together we have built a great program that will continue to be there for present and future athletes. The coaches and staff are dedicated to supporting athletes. They will always work towards assisting you to reach your goals.
You have had a profound impact on my life and all those around me, since I talk about you all the time. I will miss you, but know that I will follow your progress and be cheering you on wherever I am.
Always and with sincere thanks,