Helen Smart, a former Olympic swimmer who represented Great Britain, has died at 43.
Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School in Wigan, England — where Smith was head teacher — confirmed the news in a statement.
“It is with great sadness and regret that I have to announce the sudden death of our beloved Headteacher, Mrs Helen Smart,” read Worsley Mesnes’ official website. “Our heart-felt condolences are sent to Helen’s family at this very difficult time.”
The news “will be a shock and cause great sadness to our community,” the statement continued.
“I want to reassure you that the Governors of Worsley Mesnes School are working with the local authority and school to ensure that our children, staff and parents will receive the necessary support in the coming weeks,” the statement, signed by Chair of Governors Alison Halliwell, continued. “Further information/updates will be issued as and when they are available.”
British Swimming were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Olympian Helen Smart (née Helen Don-Duncan)
Tributes have come in from Helen’s friends and teammates from across the swimming community 💙https://t.co/ZrbLg5UkHv
— British Swimming (@britishswimming) August 15, 2023
Prior to becoming a teacher, Smart was a member of Great Britain‘s national swimming team in the late ’90s. In 1998, she won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, before winning silver medals at both the World and European Championships. She finished in 15th place at the 2000 Olympics in the 200m backstroke.
“She loved the school, staff, children and parents so much,” Craig Smart, Helen’s husband, said on Facebook. “She was so proud to reach her goal of being headteacher. She used to say to me all the time she could never see herself at another school. She was Worsley Mesnes through and through!” (RELATED: Former NFL Running Back Alex Collins Dies At 28)
“I remember only last week she said her goal was to get the school to outstanding and that she had the right staff to achieve this!” Smart added. “I hope you all keep learning like champions. Please learn from this and live your best life, no regrets, take lots of photos, make memories and keep smiling just like Helen always did! Love to you all! X.”