Farewell Phoebe

 “I’ve loved being part of the Geelong Swimming Club. I’ve always felt included.” 

World Record Holder and elite athlete Phoebe Mitchell has hung up her goggles after 20 years competing and training with the Geelong Swimming Club (GSC). “I’ve made life-long friends and memories” said Phoebe whose swimming lessons at an early age with Fiona Skinner LTS soon gained momentum and it wasn’t long before she joined her brother Ed competing for the GSC. 

Inclusion is a corner-stone of the GSC and Phoebe and her family wish to recognize the efforts of coaches Rebecca Balm, John Beckworth and Sadat-Jon Hussain during Phoebe’s time with the club. “Breaststroke and backstroke were my favourites; but definitely not butterfly.” Phoebe recalls. 

Phoebe has inspired athletes of all abilities to achieve their goals and dream big. In 2008, at age 17 Phoebe broke her first World Record at the Down syndrome (DSISO) International World Championships in Portugal. She went on to break another 74 Down syndrome World Records during her career and still holds 10 open world Records, 10 masters World Records, 16 Oceania World Records and multiple Australian records. She can proudly hang up her goggles knowing her goals have been achieved and that she has forged a pathway for other swimmers with disability. 

Representing Australia, Phoebe has traveled the globe competing in Taiwan in 2010, Italy in 2012 and 2016, Mexico in 2014 and Canada in 2018. She was female Captain of the DSISO Australian team in 2012 and 2016. Phoebe was a member of the Australian swim team representing the nation at the 2019 Virtus Global Games, the largest sporting event for athletes with intellectual impairment and the 2022 Virtus Oceania Games winning 18 gold medals. As a three-time female world champion some of Phoebe’s fondest memories are closer to home including her selection as GSC Vice Captain in 2010 and being part of the club’s winning team at the 2022 LC Country Championships for the first time in 22 years. 

Phoebe has been the only female athlete with Down syndrome to swim the Pier to Pub and has completed the open water event 8 times. She was honored to run the final leg of the Torquay Queen’s baton relay for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Her stella career and commitment to swimming was recognised with Phoebe being awarded the Surf Coast Australia Day Young Citizen of the year award in 2017 and celebrated as the Female Athlete of the year at the 2020 Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards. 

During Phoebe’s 20-year career the field of inclusion has been a slow progression, it wasn’t until 2021 that a trial phase of the S18 category for swimmers with down syndrome was introduced. In her final season of competition Phoebe was the first female swimmer to compete in the new S18 category at the 2022 Australian Swimming Championships. 

GSC are incredibly proud to have shared in Phoebe’s journey as an elite athlete and to have celebrated her achievements with her. In 2022, GSC welcomed Phoebe as a Life Member of the club. 

“I will miss so much about GSC.” said Phoebe. “I’m looking forward to new adventures. Thank you to all my swimming friends.”