Australian swimmer Chelsea Hodges retires from international swimming at 22 due to injuries

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Chelsea Hodges

24th May 2024 – (Sydney) Chelsea Hodges, the Australian swimmer who played a pivotal role in securing the women’s 4×100 metres medley relay gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, has announced her retirement from international swimming at the age of 22. Hodges had been struggling with persistent injuries, prompting her decision to step away from the sport.

During the thrilling medley relay final in Tokyo, Hodges showcased her talent by swimming the breaststroke leg, helping Australia secure victory over their American rivals. Her contribution was instrumental in the team’s success.

Hodges had initially aspired to compete in one more Olympic Games with the Australian team, known as the “Dolphins,” in Paris. However, the toll of multiple hip surgeries compelled her to prioritise her quality of life and nursing career.

In a statement released by Swimming Australia on Friday, Hodges revealed her long-standing battle with hip issues. She underwent her first hip operation at the age of 15 and experienced another surgery last year. With the physical condition of her hips resembling those of a much older individual, Hodges faced a difficult decision.

Despite receiving six cortisone injections in an effort to continue her swimming career, Hodges ultimately chose to focus on her future. She recognized that retiring would enable her to pursue her nursing career, which requires her to be on her feet throughout the day. Additionally, she expressed her desire to engage in activities with her children, including running on the beach.

While Hodges’s retirement undoubtedly leaves a void in Australian swimming, the decision aligns with her long-term well-being. Notably, she ranks as the nation’s third-fastest 100m breaststroker of all time, recording an impressive time of one minute and 5.99 seconds. Only the retired duo of Leisel Jones and Sarah Katsoulis achieved faster times in this event.

Australia’s women’s breaststroke discipline now faces a challenge in the absence of Hodges. Her fitness struggles since the Tokyo Olympics have highlighted the team’s limited depth in this area. In recent events, such as the World Championships in Doha, Abbey Harkin assumed the breaststroke leg, achieving a modest time of 1:07.21. While Australia emerged victorious, the competition’s overall strength was considered weak.

However, at last year’s World Championships in Fukuoka, the powerful U.S. team dominated the Australians, with American swimmer Lilly King outperforming Harkin by two seconds with a breaststroke split of 1:04.93.