OLYMPIC swimmer Helen Smart was found dead by her four-year-old daughter – who said “Daddy, I can’t wake Mummy up”.
Helen, 43, died “suddenly” this weekend after retiring from her medal-winning career to be a headteacher.
How did Die Olympic Swimmer
Olympic swimmer Helen Smart has died at the age of 43
She swam for Team GB at the 2000 Sydney OlympicsCredit: Alamy
The decorated athlete, a backstroke specialist, swam for Team GB at the 2000 Sydney Olympics under her maiden name Helen Don-Duncan.
She also won a bronze medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and silver at both the World and European Championships.
Mum-of-two Helen retired from the sport following the Sydney Olympics and went on to become head of Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School in Wigan.
Now Helen’s mum Linda has told of how she was found dead at 4am on Saturday by her four-your-old daughter.
Linda told the Mail: “Heidi had woken up in the night and tried to get into bed with her.
“She said to her daddy, ‘Mummy won’t wake up”.
“He said, ‘Oh, she must be very tired Heidi – you go back to bed’.
“He put the torch on and he said later that when he looked he could tell.”
Grieving Linda told how Helen had gone paddle boarding with her husband Craig and children Heidi and Stanley at dusk, just hours before her death – and had not been ill.
‘PRIDE AND JOY’
Helen’s father John also paid tribute to his daughter after her tragic death at the age of just 43.
He said: “Helen was our pride and joy – we are so proud of her. She lit up a room as soon as she arrived.
“Linda and I can’t comprehend how she could just simply go to sleep and not wake up.”
Helen’s husband Craig Smart said: “She loved the school, staff, children and parents so much.
“She was so proud to reach her goal of being headteacher. She used to say to me all the time she could never see herself at another school.
“She was Worsley Mesnes through and through!
“I remember only last week she said her goal was to get the school to outstanding and that she had the right staff to achieve this.
“I hope you all keep learning like champions. Please learn from this and live your best life, no regrets.
“Take lots of photos, make memories and keep smiling just like Helen always did! Love to you all!”
Meanwhile, Olympic medallist Sharron Davies paid tribute to the “fierce competitor”.
She wrote on social media: “This is very sad news. Always a pleasure to interview and always a huge smile on her face. A fierce competitor.”
Team GB swimmer Katy Sexton, who made her Olympic debut with Helen, added: “I’ve been trying to find the words to say about this but am so shocked by the news, I don’t know what to say.
“Helen was such a vibrant character, always happy and a great friend and roommate.
“She was such a dedicated athlete and had an amazing work ethic which she carried into her life outside of sport.”