Spain’s Ona Carbonell Retires from Synchro Swimming with 23 World Championship Medals

Spanish artistic swimmer Ona Carbonell, a two-time Olympic medalist, announced her retirement on May 19th. She is hanging up her swimsuit after participating in three Olympic Games, seven consecutive World Championships, and after becoming one of the most decorated synchronized swimmers at the World Championships level with a total of 23 medals.

32-year-old Carbonell broke the news by sharing a video to social media captioned: “quiero deciros algo” or “I want to tell you all something.” She explained her confidence in the decision to retire, her reflections on the sport, and her gratitude for everyone she has met along the way:

“Today is no ordinary day. It’s a day of change, evolution, and learning.

I’m happy and calm to have taken this decision. But, above all, grateful.

Sport and artistic swimming have given me everything. They’ve taught me values: humility in defeat and in victory, effort and companionship, creativity and beauty, the importance of respect and mutual support, knowing my physical and mental limits, and getting up after losing. It was always like that.

Today I’m hanging up my swimming costume, but I’m not doing it alone. Because always, in every training session, in every competition, and even if I was thousands  of kilometers away, I felt the love and support of all of you.

So, to my family, to my friends, to my teammates and athletes, to my rivals and to each and every one of those I met along the way, I just want to say one thing: thank you.”

Carbonell is a two-time Olympic medalist who won silver in a duet with Andrea Fuentes and bronze in the team event at the 2012 London Olympics. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she competed in a duet alongside Gemma Mengual and they placed fourth.

The Barcelona native has been on the Spanish national synchronized swim team since she was 14 years old. She made her international debut at the 2007 World Championships in Australia where she won bronze in the team technical event at 16 years old. Two years later, she became a world champion in the team free event at the 2009 World Championships. Carbonell has never left a World Championships competition empty-handed.

Her last major international event was the 2021 Tokyo Olympics where she helped Spain to a seventh-place finish in the team event. This was less than one year after she gave birth to her first son.  She has been an advocate for elite athletes who are mothers, arguing against the Tokyo 2020 organizers’ decision not to allow nursing children to accompany their mothers inside the Olympic Village. The children had to stay in approved hotels instead.

In March 2022, Carbonell released a documentary called Starting Over in March 2022, detailing 11 months of her journey of becoming a first-time mother while training for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Carbonell now has two young children. She is also the author of Tres Minutos, Cuarenta Segundos, a nonfiction book whose title references the length of Spain’s 2012 Olympic silver medal-winning duet routine, and Elena Sirena, a children’s series about a young girl who dreams about becoming a synchronized swimmer until she discovers that she is a mermaid.

Carbonell’s retirement comes a few months after Russia’s Svetlana Romashina, the most-decorated synchronized swimmer in history, announced her retirement in February.

Carbonell Career International Medals

2012 Olympics

World Championships Medals

  • Gold
    • 2009 – Team Free Combination 
  • Silver
    • 2009 – Team Technical 
    • 2009 – Team Free 
    • 2013 – Team Technical 
    • 2013 – Team Free 
    • 2013 – Team Free Combination 
    • 2015 – Solo Technical 
    • 2017 – Solo Technical 
    • 2017 – Solo Free 
    • 2019 – Solo Technical 
    • 2019 – Solo Free 
  • Bronze 
    • 2007 – Team Technical 
    • 2011 – Duet Technical
    • 2011 – Duet Free 
    • 2011 – Team Technical 
    • 2011 – Team Free 
    • 2013 – Solo Technical
    • 2013 – Duet Technical
    • 2013 – Solo Free 
    • 2013 – Duet Free 
    • 2015 – Solo Free 
    • 2019 – Team Highlight 

Competition Videos

London 2012 Olympics: Spain Earns Silver in Women’s Duet

2009 Rome World Championships: Spain Wins Gold in Team Event

2013 Barcelona World Championships: Carbonell Wins Bronze in Solo

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About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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