Craig Lord of SwimNews.com broke the new this evening that World Record holder Gemma Spofforth is preparing to file her official retirement papers next week. That wraps up a career at 24-years old that, despite not ending on the highest of notes, took the British swimmer to NCAA Championships, a World Championship, and even a World Record.
At Florida, Spofforth won three-straight 200 backstroke NCAA Championships from 2007-2009, having a fourpeat only denied by a Kateryna Fasenko upset in 2010. Spofforth had the last laugh, though, as the fire-starter for the 2010 NCAA Championship Florida squad.
Meanwhile, in 2009 she won the World Championship in the 100 backstroke in long course, including a 58.12 World Record that has now stood for over three years.
For as many highs as she’s had, Spofforth has battled demons as well. She revealed earlier this year that she once stood on a balcony in an Australian hotel contemplating suicide. After losing her mother to cancer and the daughter of his father’s new girlfriend, she fell into a deep sorrow.
It was her home Olympics, though, that renewed her passion for swimming. She was only 23rd at the World Championships in 2011, but in 2012, when most expected that she had emotionally checked-out of the sport, she stunned by finishing 5th in the 100 backstroke Olympic final.
Through the ups-and-downs, Spofforth has found a new passion in life: counseling those who find themselves with similar feelings of despair as she’s had. She now is pursuing a career in crisis counselling while helping the coaches in Gainesville.
Spofforth will ultimately go down as a legend in the pool, but the lessons learned from her story go far beyond. She has managed to channel the memories of both her greatest successes and her greatest heartaches into greatest inspiration and a source of hope for others.