Ethan Heasley, the 2018 Junior Pan Pacs bronze medalist in the 400-meter freestyle, announced his retirement from competitive swimming on Sept. 23.
The University of Texas junior told SwimSwam that “the decision to retire was not one that came easily or quickly.”
As a freshman, Heasley was seeded to score at NCAAs in both the 1650 freestyle and the 400 IM, after hitting lifetime bests of 14:48.10 and 3:43.35 in-season. However, he was cut from the NCAA team due to entry limits. He was unable to match those times as a sophomore, and his best result last season was finishing 10th at Big-12s in the 400 IM in 3:50.49.
The #12 SwimSwam recruit in the class of 2020, Heasley also represented the United States on the international stage. The Hillsboro, Oregon native was part of the 2018 Junior Pan Pacs team, and earned his bronze medal in 3:53.81 behind Ross Dant and Brendon Smith. He also finished ninth in the 400 IM and 11th in the 200 freestyle.
As a high school senior swimming for Hillsboro HEAT, Heasley won three events at the Oregon Senior Championships: the 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly, and 200 IM.
Heasley went into detail about his decision to retire, and his full thoughts are below:
The decision to retire was not one that came easily or quickly. I had been struggling mentally, physically, and emotionally with the sport for some time and my continual decline in performance as well as struggle to stay healthy made matters even harder. This was hurting both my performance in the water and the relationships with people who mattered most to me. After many conversations over the summer and the beginning of this season with my team, family, and friends I realized it was time to prioritize my mental well-being and relationships. Swimming has taught me so much about myself and the world around me, which has helped me be at peace with the difficult decision to leave the sport I have dedicated so much to. Most importantly, I am so grateful for the unwavering support of all my teammates and the great opportunity to have swam at Texas.
For his accomplishments outside of the pool, Heasley was named to the 2021-2022 CSCAA Scholar All-American Second Team and the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. His freshman year, he was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team. He’s also a four-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.