12187-Ailbhe Kelly photo

Ailbhe Kelly

Athletics | Swimming


Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Impaired muscle power
Origin of Impairment
S8, SB7, SM8

Further personal information

Dublin, IRL
English, Gaelic
Higher education
European Studies - Trinity College Dublin: Ireland

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up the sport at age five in Dublin, Ireland. She began swimming competitively in 2009 at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin, Ireland.
Why this sport?
Her parents signed her up for swimming classes, and she began to enjoy being in the water and racing her brothers.

International debut

Competing for
European Championships
Eindhoven, NED

General interest

Spending time with friends, baking. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019)
Memorable sporting achievement
Competing at the 2018 European Championships in Dublin, Ireland. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019)
Most influential person in career
Coach Dave Malone. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019)
Hero / Idol
US Para swimmer Jessica Long. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019)
Awards and honours
She and the other members of the Irish team that competed at the 2018 European Championships in Dublin, Ireland, received a Recognition Award at the 2018 Swim Ireland Awards. (, 20 Jan 2019)

She was named a Trinity College Sport and Club Academy scholar for 2018/19 in Dublin, Ireland. (, 30 Oct 2018)
She was born with arthrogryposis, which causes joint contractures and muscle weakness in her lower limbs. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019)
Other information
In September 2019 she announced her retirement from Para swimming following the 2019 World Championships in London, England. "In my S8 event I was hoping to be switched to another class due to my impairment. I felt I was constantly battling myself all the time. Because I'm in a wheelchair I'm already in the pool whereas my competitors jump in from the block, so straight away I was at a disadvantage. I tried to show proof of the effects that drag has on the position of my legs in the water, but World Para Swimming [WPS] never bothered. I hope for them that the system gets better but for me it wasn't going to change." (, 15 Sep 2019)

She credits her parents for finding an option other than her first swim class, which proved to be inaccessible for her because of the exercises the coach assigned to the students. "But I was lucky in that my parents were able to pay for me to have one-on-one lessons. Not everyone is able to do that." (, 31 Jul 2019)

In March 2019 her car was stolen, along with her wheelchair that was in the car. (Twitter profile, 23 Mar 2019)


Unit Date Rank
2015 IPC Swimming World Championships (Glasgow, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Freestyle S8 Heat 2 2015-07-16 12
Women's 400 m Freestyle S8 Heat 1 2015-07-17 10
Women's 100 m Backstroke S8 Heat 1 2015-07-18 5
Women's 100 m Backstroke S8 Final 1 2015-07-18 8
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 400 m Freestyle S8 Heat 2 2016-09-08 7
Women's 100 m Freestyle S8 Heat 1 2016-09-11 7
Women's 100 m Backstroke S8 Heat 2 2016-09-13 6