Stephanie Rice (AUS)
2019 Honor Swimmer
FOR THE RECORD: 2008 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (200m I.M, 400m I.M, 4x200m freestyle; 2007 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (LC): bronze (200m I.M, 400m I.M.); 2009 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (LC): silver (200m I.M, 4x100m medley); bronze (400m I.M.); 2011 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (LC): bronze (400m I.M., 4x100m medley); 2006 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (200m I.M., 400m I.M); 2006 COMMONWEALTH GAMES: gold (200m I.M, 400m I.M)
She first showed promise of being a great swimmer at 16, when she qualified for the 2005 Junior Pan-Pacific Championships. It was there that Stephanie Rice won two gold medals for Team Australia.
Rice burst onto the international senior scene in 2006 under coach Michael Bohl, winning two gold medals in both IMs at the Commonwealth Games in her home country. The next year at the World Championships also in front of a home crowd, Rice won two bronze medals in both IMs, lowering the Australian record in the 200.
In March 2008 at the Australian Olympic Trials in Sydney, Rice unexpectedly broke the world record in the 400m IM by a full second. Three days later, she broke the 200m IM world record that had stood for 11 years and qualified for her first Olympic team.
At the Olympic Games in Beijing, Rice became just the sixth Australian athlete to win three gold medals at a single Olympics when she won both IMs and led off Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay team.
Stephanie became the first woman to break 4:30 in the 400m IM and lowered her own world record in the 200m IM later in the meet. To finish off her meet, she broke the Australian record in the 200m freestyle en route to Australia breaking the world record in the 4x200m freestyle relay. Rice was honored as the World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World Magazine and in January 2009 was awarded the prestigious Order of Australia Medal.
After the Olympics, Rice started dealing with nagging shoulder pain while she swam. At the 2009 World Championships, she won silver in the 200m IM and bronze in the 400m IM, not quite as good as her Olympics performances.
In 2010, her shoulder pain had gotten so bad, she underwent surgery, causing her to drop out of international competition.
Her surgery was successful but nine months before the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she tore a tendon in her shoulder. She was going to need surgery with a six-month recovery, but with the Olympic Trials only ten weeks away, full surgery was not an option. She elected for a smaller surgery that would hopefully keep her healthy for the Olympics. Despite these injuries, Rice qualified for the London Olympics in both the 200m and 400m IM, posting times near the top of the world rankings at the Olympic Trials.
In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, the pain in her shoulder continued to get worse. She was cutting her work load in the pool to ease the pain, but it was still a struggle. With all the injuries behind her, Rice was proud of her 4th place 200m IM and 6th place 400m IM performances in London and announced her retirement in 2014 at the age of 24.
She co-authored the book, The Art of Wellness, and is an ambassador for numerous well-known Australian health brands. Rice’s passion in life is to share her wealth of knowledge and her insights to positively impact others’ lives and inspire them to be the best they can be.
She is now giving back to the sport of swimming with her coach Michael Bohl. They are planning to build Learn-to- Swim programs all throughout India. In addition, they plan to develop the “Stephanie Rice Elite Academy,” with the goal of producing India’s very first Olympic swimming medalist in the next decade.