Ex-Olympic swimmer, Helen Smart, who died at the age of 42 on Wednesday, was happily seen paddle boarding hours before her death.
Smart’s body was discovered by her four-year-old daughter, Heidi, after which she told her father, “Daddy, I can’t wake mummy up.” The mother-of-two was found unresponsive when Heidi woke up in the early hours of the morning and tried to get into bed with her mother.
“Oh she must be very tired Heidi – you go back to bed,” he reportedly said after which he took a flashlight and went to check on Smart, which is when he understood that she had died.
Smart’s mother Linda got emotional as she told Daily Mail: “We are just in so much shock. You jump from believing it to not believing it. She had been paddle boarding a few hours before and had never even been ill apart from her knees swelling from swimming. We’re distraught. They don’t know what it is but they think it must have happened shortly after she went to bed. She just died in her sleep.”
At the time of her death, the family were at a large cottage on the banks of Lake Coniston for her brother’s Robert’s 40th birthday. Before they drove up to the cottage, Smart had gone for a morning swim at a country club near her home in Wigan.
Helen’s father John posted a tribute for his daughter on Facebook where he, Linda and Helen could be seen smiling together. “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?! xx” he wrote.
Smart was a competitive simmer who had won a bronze medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and silver medals ay the World and European Championships.