World Record Holder Gemma Spofforth Announces Retirement

Craig Lord of 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.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

Gemma was a brilliant swimmer, only she and Phelps won world titles in 2009 not wearing the Jaked. Plus her LZR was not even 100%. It was 50/50 which suggests her talent is worth much more than the 59.2 she swam in London, she had 2 years with no motivation then pretty much “decided” she wanted it again at British trials and went from being a 60. swimmer with a rough technique to a 59.2 olympic finallist in barely 5 months. What a talent she is, and an amazing woman on top of that.

11 years ago

@mirror… maybe i’m being over sensitive, or lack a sense of humor, but usually when an announcement is made you don’t try to belittle the person. that picture does not need to be shown on this article. Gemma was a great swimmer who should be remembered not for her aforementioned demons, but for her incredible talent, and her perseverance to overcome her troubles.

Prairie girl
Reply to  Nostradamus
11 years ago

Agreed Nostradamus! Mirror Traffic you are immature and clearly mean spirited!

Mirror Traffic
11 years ago

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of 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 »