Kelsi Dahlia Announces Retirement After Decorated Career in Sprint Butterfly Events

Kelsi Dahlia -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Kelsi Dahlia Announces Retirement After Decorated Career in Sprint Butterfly Events

After a lengthy run as one of the top sprint butterfly specialist in the United States and in the world, Kelsi Dahlia has announced her retirement from swimming. The 27-year-old originally from Westampton, N.J., and a graduate of the University of Louisville, Dahlia was a multi-time NCAA champion during her career with the Cardinals, an Olympian for the United States in 2016 (where she won gold in the 400 medley relay as a prelims swimmer) and an individual bronze medalist at the 2017 World Championships in the 100 butterfly.

Dahlia narrowly missed qualifying for the 2021 Olympic team as she finished fourth in the 100 fly at Olympic Trials, but she rebounded less than six months later to set the world record in the short course meters 100 fly in December 2021, a mark which still stands. Last month, she placed third in the 100 fly at the U.S. International Team Trials in Greensboro, N.C., and that turned out to be her last race.

Dahlia posted a retirement message to her Instagram account Saturday. She wrote, “Thank you swimming ? this sport has given me all I could dream and more, and I’m so thankful for my last 20 years in the water. The people I have met along the way are what have made the blood, sweat, and tears all worth it.”

Read Dahlia’s full message, which included thank-yous to her family, coaches and others, below.

In an interview with Swimming World days before she set her world record, Dahlia indicated that she was unsure of her long-term plans for swimming, and she explained that she needed time to discuss her future with husband Thomas Dahlia, a former French national team swimmer, and her coaches. After she swam the 100 fly final at the International Team Trials last month, Dahlia received long hugs and congratulations from her coaches, teammates and friends, which hinted that she planned to move on from the sport.

During her standout college career at Louisville, Dahlia became the first woman to break 50 seconds in the 100-yard fly at the 2015 NCAA Championships, and she won national titles in that event and in the 200 fly in 2015 and 2016. She qualified for the Olympic team with an upset win over then-world-record holder Dana Vollmer in the 100-meter fly at the 2016 Olympic Trials.

After narrowly missing the Olympic final in Rio, she spent the next several years as the top American women in the sprint fly events, and during that time, she was part of world-record-setting 400 medley relay squads at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships.

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1 year ago

What exactly – not metaphorically – does the phrase ‘IN Jesus’ literally mean in this context? And why did she cry at Olympic Trials if it was God’s Will? Not facetious – just confused!

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