Stanford NCAA Champ Zoe Bartel Announces Midseason Retirement

Zoe Bartel; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Stanford NCAA Champ Zoe Bartel Announces Mid-Season Retirement

Zoe Bartel, a member of Stanford’s 2019 NCAA championship team, announced her retirement from the sport on Monday.

Bartel posted her farewell on Instagram.


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She shared insight to her decision in the pinned comments to the post in an effort to “dispel some of the Stanford slander.” Bartel wrote, in part:

Let me be very clear: my choice has nothing to do with Stanford swimming or my performances since coming to school. This is a personal matter, and I’ve been incredibly blessed with the support of my family, coaches and teammates throughout my 15 years of competitive swimming. That being said, my decision was not easy by any means. My life and most of my relationships have been woven in the context of swimming. Stepping away feels like abandoning the family that raised me and loved me even when I was at my worst.

When it comes down to it, swimming is not something I truly love. Those of you who know my story a little better know that has always been true. What I’ve loved about this sport are the people I’ve gotten to grow with, and the purpose it has given me when I didn’t feel like I had one. I’ve struggled with my mental health for a long time, and swimming has consistently complicated these struggles. I used the daily grind of swimming to exhaust my demons rather than have to deal with them head on. This sport simultaneously saved me from myself and clouded my understanding of who I am and how to be that person.

The senior helped lead Stanford to Pac-12 championships in 2019 and 2020, as well as the 2019 NCAA crown. She ends her career with top-10 times in program history in the 100 breaststroke (59.77 for ninth) and 200 breast (2:09.01 for eighth). The Fort Collins, Colo., native competed at U.S. Olympic Trials this summer, making the semifinals of the 200 breaststroke, where she finished 14th. She was also 36th in the 100 breast and 51st in the 200 individual medley. She was a 15-16 national age-group record holder in the 200 breast.

Bartel said she decided to stop swimming in the fall and has, “been happier than I’ve been in a long time.” She continues:

“This is not how I envisioned ending my time in the pool. It’s not the fairytale ending to a perfect 4 years that we all dream about coming into school. Nonetheless, I know this is right for my wellbeing and future- as well as the future of Stanford Women’s Swim & Dive. I can’t give them the all-in commitment they deserve while also setting myself up to live a life I want, so I’ve chosen to step away.”

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