Citing Financial Issues, South Africa’s Zane Waddell Retires at 22

Photo Courtesy: Alabama Athletics

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Zane Waddell, an 11-time All-American at Alabama and the reigning world champion in the men’s 50-meter backstroke, declared his retirement from the sport Wednesday.

In an interview with OFM Sport, the South African cited financial issues as a main reason for his retirement.

“It’s just tough with Covid-19 and everything else happening right now,” Waddell said. “When I asked for funding from the national federation there was none available post the world championships in 2019. With the Covid-19 situation it just puts a lot of strain on business and sports federations alike and it’s just tough to make ends meet when you aren’t making an income from your athletic career.

“The plan is now to move on with life.”

Waddell finished a stellar career at the University of Alabama last spring with All-American nods in six events, including the 50 freestyle, 100 free and 100 back. His season ended prematurely with the cancellation of the NCAA Championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waddell won an NCAA title in 2019 with the Crimson Tide’s 200 medley relay. He won five Southeastern Conference titles, including the 2019 100 back, with a school and conference record time of 44.10 seconds.

Internationally, he won the 50 back for South Africa at both the 2019 World Championships and the 2019 World University Games.

Away from the pool, Waddell was a four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and the CSCAA Scholar All-American. The management information systems and finance major won the SEC Postgraduate Scholarship and was named the 2020 SEC Swimming & Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“I do have other goals outside of swimming which I am going to try and achieve,” Zane Waddell said, “but I am officially retired due to just a lacking of funding and companies not being in the position to provide financial assistance either.”

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