Aussie Swimming legend Cate Campbell Officially Calls Time On a Stellar Career In The Pool

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES CATE: Aussie sprint queen Cate Campbell calls time on a stellar career in the golden lanes of Australian swimming. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr.

Aussie Swimming legend Cate Campbell Officially Calls Time On a Stellar Career In The Pool

Cate Campbell, four-time Olympian and the Australian Swim Team’s flagbearer for over a decade, has today officially retired from the sport she began when taught to swim by her mother in a lake in Malawi in South East Africa.

Now 23 years, 35,000km and 19 million strokes later Campbell has called time on her stellar career, posting that after four Olympics, eight Olympic medals, seven world records, 12 World Championship medals – four of them gold, nine Pan Pac Gold and six Commonwealth Games gold – 24 major gold medals in a total of 39, saying:  “It’s time to day goodbye to the dream I have had since I was nine years old.”

A dream that saw Cate Campbell become synonymous with the rise of Australia’s stranglehold on female freestyle sprinting since she first burst onto the scene at the 2007 Youth Olympic Games at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

Standing poolside with Australian Head Coach Leigh Nugent, who had led the Australian team to it’s most successful off-shore Olympics in Athens in 2004, we agreed: “Australia’s got a live one here.”

At 14, this tall, lanky Brisbane school girl, who trained under astute coach Simon Cusack in a 25m pool in Indooroopilly, became the fifth fastest all-time Australian, winning the 50m freestyle in 24.89.

Twelve months later Cate Campbell was standing proudly on the Olympic dais in Beijing with a bronze medal around her neck from the 50m freestyle – the first of those eight Olympic medals – four of them gold as she led an era of female sprinters to the top of the world – and in 2016 setting a world record of 52.06 for the 100m freestyle in Brisbane.

Campbell remains the only swimmer with three of the fastest times inside the World All-Time Top Ten –  with her 52.03 (2018), 52.06 (2016) and 52.12 (2019).

Relays were her specialty – Cate holding the four fastest times ever 100m freestyle relay splits (the fastest in 50.93 at the 2018 Pan Pacs) and seven of the top ten times. Anchoring her girls to three successive victories in the 4x100m freestyle relays in London, Rio and Tokyo – sharing her Rio and Tokyo gold medals with little sister Bronte, who will carry the Campbell name into Paris as the Aussie girls line up again for a crack at a fourth straight gold.

Cate Campbell and Dawn Fraser. Swimming team celebrations of the announcement of Cate Campbell as flagbearer for the Australian Olympic Team at Tokyo2020 Olympic Games. Cairns Australia, July 7 2021. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Photo by Delly Carr. Pic Credit Mandatory for free usage. Thank you.

CATE AND DAWN: Cate Campbell receives the Australian flag from Dawn Fraser. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Tokyo was a special triumph for Campbell, who shared the Australian Olympic Team’s flag bearing duties in the Opening with indigenous basketball star Patty Mills before joining sister Bronte in the 4x100m freestyle triumph.

Then producing another powerhouse anchor leg, holding off the dogged USA girls for gold in the 4x100m medley relay– after finishing on the dais with individual bronze to golden girl Emma McKeon in the 100m freestyle.

The Australian Trials for Paris that concluded just two weeks ago in Brisbane saw Cate miss the top eight in then 100m freestyle by 0.01 – and any realistic chance of swimming for a fifth Games.

An exit from a decorated career as Australia’s swimming queen that unfolded live on National TV two nights later in the 50m freestyle final – Cate finishing seventh in a emotional swimming swansong surrounded by a generation of female sprinters she has helped inspire since bursting onto the international scene.

It was an emotionally charged final night of swimming which witnessed a changing of the guard with the arrival of Shayna Jack and Meg Harris as individual contenders in the 50 metres freestyle for Paris and the departure of two legends in McKeon and Cate Campbell.

On a roll, Jack added the 50m freestyle to her 100m qualification against some of the toughest fields in world swimming and becoming the fourth Australian under 24 seconds – clocking a winning time of 23.99 m- and will also play a vital part in Australia’s relay assaults.

With Harris earning her first individual Olympic appearance after her role in the 4x100m freestyle, in 24.26.

And behind the qualifying class of 2024 were the 30-year-old defending Olympic champion McKeon and 32-year Campbell who has been in three of the last four 50m Olympic finals.

Jul 30, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Emma McKeon (AUS) and Cate Campbell (AUS) place first and third in the women's 100m freestyle final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

CATE AND EMMA: Cate Campbell raises Emma McKeon’s arm after the 100m freestyle triumph in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports

McKeon touching in 24.32 – agonisingly, just 0.06 behind Harris and the chance to defend her gold medal from Tokyo.

And back in seventh was Campbell in 24.85 – who touched the wall for the last time – in a time 0.04 quicker than her winning time in 2007 at the Youth Olympics in Sydney.

Campbell has reflected on her career, saying: “I have had some time over the past week to reflect on my career, and while there are many conflicting emotions, especially because it did not end exactly how I had hoped, I am still able to look back without regret.

“I gave the pursuit of a fifth Olympics everything l had, and therefore, even in failure, there is a small, indelible kernel of pride.

‘” One of the biggest myths is that swimming is an individual sport. While it was only me under the bright lights behind the starting blocks, there was a small army of people who got me to that place.

“So, I would like to thank my extended team over the years. My family, my friends, my partner, my competitors, my Australian Dolphins teammates, my management team, my physios, my coaches, Swimming Australia, the Queensland Academy of Sport, the Australian Olympic Committee, the New South Whales Institute of Sport, my sponsors, the swimming officials and referees, the basket kids, the events teams and every single swimming fan who has supported me over the years.

It’s been a long and wild ride, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“I can’t wait to cheer on the Australian Dolphins and the rest of the Australian Olympic Team in Paris. I am entering my cheerleading era.”

There is only one Cate Campbell. Remaining a livewire right till the very end. Thanks for the memories kid!


CATE’S LAST LAP Sister Act – Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell tears Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

CATE’S LAST LAP Cate Campbell and W50free field Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

CATE’S LAST LAP Cate Campbell and W50free field Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

CATE’S LASP LAP Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

CATE’S LAST LAP: Changing of the guard from cater Campbell to Shayna Jack. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan Photography

Dawn Fraser and Cate Campbell

WORLD BEATER: The night in Brisbane injured 2016 when CateCampbell broke the world record,. greeted by the great Dawn Fraser. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Aug 1, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Australia relay team of Kaylee McKeown (AUS), Chelsea Hodges (AUS), Emma McKeon (AUS) and Cate Campbell (AUS) during the medals ceremony for the women's 4x100m medley relay during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

MEDLEY RELAY GOLD IN TOKYO:Kaylee McKeown, Chelsea Hodges, Emma McKeon, Cate Campbell. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports

Thanks for the memories kid. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr.

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Isabelle Fraser
Isabelle Fraser
1 day ago

A great swimmer. Great career. Wish her all the best.

Lyle Campbell
Lyle Campbell
1 day ago

USA sends her a cow bell to remind her that the overall team winner is still here

14 hours ago

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13 hours ago

Thanks for an in-depth and fitting article for one of Australia’s great female swimmers. Plus ignoring the blown out of context and proportion comments from over a year sgo about thin skinned sore losers in NBC’s twisted medal table.
Hopefully she’ll now have a successful career in being a great swimming commentator on tv.
All the best Cate and thanks for some wonderful memories!

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