A British former Olympic swimmer has tragically died suddenly at just 43 years old, her devastated family has revealed.
Helen Smart’s family announced that she passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday.
Smart represented Team Great Britain as a swimmer at the 2000 Sydney Olympics under her maiden name Helen Don-Duncan.
She also won a bronze medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and silver at both the World and European Championships.
After the Olympics, Smart retired from full-time sports to become a teacher.
She went on to become head of Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School in Wigan, England, according to The Sun.
They insist that she had “never been ill” and was seemingly healthy up until her death.
Smart was incredibly successful as an athlete.
E-News notes that she had many notable accomplishments as a swimmer.
Smart won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and proceeded to take home silver medals at the World and European Championships.
She then qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and finished 15th in the 200m backstroke event.
At the time of her passing, Helen was working as a teacher but still led a healthy and highly active lifestyle.
According to the Daily Mail, Helen’s family was at a large cottage on the banks of Lake Coniston at the time of her passing.
Helen was found unresponsive in her bed Tuesday morning at 4 am by her four-year-old daughter Heidi.
She then ran to Craig Smart, her father and Helen’s husband, and told him: “Daddy, I can’t wake mummy up.”
When Linda, Helen’s mother, went to check, she said knew her daughter had passed away after touching her:
I touched her foot and she was cold.
I walked round and to the side of her and she looked asleep but you could tell she was gone.
Linda explained that her daughter had never been sick and that the entire family was in shock.
We are just in so much shock.
You jump from believing it to not believing it.
She had been paddle boarding a few hours before and had never even been ill apart from her knees swelling from swimming.
John Don-Duncan, Helen’s father, paid a heartbreaking tribute to her on his personal Facebook page, as reported by the Daily Mail:
Helen was our pride and joy… we are so proud of her… she lit up a room as soon as she arrived..
Linda and I can’t comprehend how she could just simply go to sleep and not wake up?!
Helen’s husband, Craig Smart, also paid tribute to his late wife on the school’s Facebook Page:
She loved the school, staff, children and parents so much.She was so proud to reach her goal of being Head Teacher.
She used to say to me all the time she could never see herself at another school.
She was Worsley Mesnes through and through! 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!
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!
The cause of Smart’s death is unknown at this time.