University of Texas Record Holder Grace Ariola Medically Retires

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Grace Ariola at 2017 World Juniors; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

University of Texas Record Holder Grace Ariola Medically Retires

University of Texas sprinter Grace Ariola announced she is retiring from swimming for medical reasons.

Ariola made the announcement on Instagram Wednesday. The Longhorns senior said in the post that it stems from a viral infection during her freshman year that has led to chronic fatigue syndrome, robbing her of the energy that made her one of the top American youth sprinters of her age group.

 

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Ariola called the end of her swimming struggle, “an act of love” on two occasions in her post.

Finally has come peace, and finally comes the end of a career colored by incredible highs and random injuries and illnesses and events. I used to think I was unlucky for the random things that happened, but now I’ve realized the opposite is true, how lucky I was to have done what I’ve done and to have met the people I know and love. That is lucky. There is nothing unlucky about the people I met and the places I went.

Ariola thanked Texas coaches Carol Capitani and Mitch Dalton for giving her the chance to keep trying to round back into form. Though Ariola didn’t swim last year, she remained on the Longhorns roster to start this season. The swimmers who commented on her farewell post – among them Olympians like Paige Madden, Regan Smith and Erica Sullivan – indicate the esteem in which she is held by fellow swimmers.

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Grace Ariola; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Despite the illness she endured as a freshman, Ariola persevered for a special season. She finished 16th at NCAAs in the 50 freestyle and was part of the Longhorns relay that finished fourth in the 400 free relay. She was also eighth in the 200 free relay and 12th in the 200 medley relay. Ariola won the Big 12 title in the 50 free as a freshman.

The four-time All-American finishes her career with a share of the Texas school record in the women’s 50 free at 21.73 seconds, a mark she shares with Rebecca Millard. She’s also sixth in program history in the 100 free, sixth in the 100 backstroke and holds program records on the 200 free and 400 free relays.

Internationally, Ariola won five medals at the 2017 World Junior Championships. She was second to Rikako Ikee in the 50 free, added bronze in the 50 back and garnered three relay medals. She also swam at Junior Pan Pacs and the 2019 World University Games, where she finished fifth in the 50. She qualified but did not swim at Olympic Trials last year.

“This is an act of love,” Ariola wrote. “I am so grateful for the people I loved in swimming and because of swimming. The trips, the camps, the meets, college. It made it worth it. You made it worth it. Now we go on.”

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