Britain’s swimming community is morning the loss of Olympian Helen Smart, who has died at the age of 42.
Sky News reported that no cause of death has been released, but that Smart “died suddenly.”
Smart represented her country under her maiden name, Don-Duncan, at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and won bronze at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games in 1998.
According to Sky News, the late swimmer was also the 200-meter British backstroke champion in the late 1990s.
After competing in Sydney, Smart retired from swimming and became a school teacher.
Smart’s age has been variously reported as 42 and 43. A biography on a sports reference website indicates that she was born on June 9, 1981, which would have made her 42 at the time of her death.
British swimmers honored Smart on social media after the news of her death was released.
“Helen had an infectious smile and laugh. Always lit up a room and was a joy to be around,” Olympian Mark Foster said.
Sad news… Helen had an infectious smile and laugh. Always lit up a room and was a joy to be around. . Thoughts go out to her family and friends ❤️. https://t.co/qFixkkGMnN
— Mark Foster (@MarkFosterSwim) August 16, 2023
Olympic medalist Sharron Davies wrote, “This is very sad news. … Always a huge smile on her face. A Fierce competitor.”
This is very sad news. Always a pleasure to interview & always a huge smile on her face. A Fierce competitor. Tributes paid to ‘inspirational’ Commonwealth medallist Helen Smart https://t.co/63Q3omEWkB
— Sharron Davies MBE (@sharrond62) August 15, 2023
LBC News obtained a statement from Smart’s former teammate Rachael Ashcroft.
“Helen was special — the type of person you want your children to grow up to be like,” Ashcroft said.
“Her main focus … was her beautiful family who she adored more than anything. They are so very close and all did so much together. Her two little children, Heidi and Stanley, and her husband, Craig, were her pride and joy and she was the best mummy and wife.”
The Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School in Wigan, where Smart taught, issued a statement about her unexpected death on Facebook.
“It is with great sadness and regret that I have to announce the sudden death of our beloved Headteacher, Mrs Helen Smart,” said Alison Halliwell, the school’s chair of governors.
“Our heart-felt condolences are sent to Helen’s family at this very difficult time. I know this news will be a shock and cause great sadness to our community.”
Craig Smart said his wife had been “so proud to reach her goal of being a headteacher.”
He also urged people to remember how precious life is and how short it can be.
“Please learn from this and live your best life, no regrets,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.