Great Britain's Alice Tai shows her two gold medals at the Sheffield 2018 World Series

Alice Tai



Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
S8, SB8, SM8

Further personal information

Partner Simone Barlaam
London, ENG
Athlete, Student
Higher education
Neurological Science - Middlesex University London: England

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began swimming at age eight with the New Milton Seagulls Swimming Club in Christchurch, England.
Why this sport?
"I came into sports for two reasons. Firstly, I lived by the sea when I was younger and my parents were adamant that I should know how to swim if we ever went to the beach. Second, when I was younger, I had 14 surgeries by the age of 12 and I used water as a rehab because each time I had surgery, I had to re-learn how to walk and it was a good way to stay active and fit. Then when I was a bit older I realised I could be classified as a disability swimmer and so I started training and competing."
Club / Team
Ealing Swimming Club: London, ENG
Name of coach
Dave Heathcock [personal]

International debut

Competing for
Great Britain

General interest

Playing guitar, listening to music, cooking, origami. (, 28 May 2020;, 11 Jan 2018;, 09 Sep 2019)
Hero / Idol
South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, British rower Steve Redgrave, British cyclist Mark Cavendish, British Para swimmer Ellie Simmonds, US Para swimmer Jessica Long. (, 12 Mar 2012;, 02 Mar 2020;, 19 Dec 2019)
In 2020 she missed training time due to nerve swelling in her elbow. (, 31 Dec 2020)
Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
She takes her favourite socks to competitions. (, 02 Mar 2020)
Awards and honours
She was named in the top 50 of The Telegraph newspaper's 2019 Women of the Year list. (, 19 Dec 2019)

She was named the 2019 Sunday Times Disability Sportswoman of the Year. (, 22 Nov 2019)

At the 2019 British Swimming Awards she was named the British Para Swimmer of the Year and the overall British Swimming Athlete of the Year. She was the first Para swimmer to win the overall award. (, 10 Nov 2019;, 08 Sep 2020)

She was voted International Paralympic Committee [IPC] Athlete of the Month for September 2019. (, 15 Oct 2019)

She was named Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [MBE] in the 2017 New Year's Honours list. (, 31 Dec 2016)

She was named the 2016 Youth Sport Trust Young Sportsperson of the Year in England. (, 23 Mar 2017)
Famous relatives
Her younger brother Christian Tai has competed in swimming at junior national level in England. Her partner Simone Barlaam has represented Italy in Para swimming, and won five gold medals at the 2019 World Championships in London, England. (, 11 Jun 2013;, 28 May 2020; SportsDeskOnline, 27 Jul 2020)
To win gold at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (, 15 Oct 2019;, 02 Mar 2020)
She was born with severe bilateral talipes [club foot] and has undergone more than a dozen operations to help correct the condition. (, 08 Dec 2011)
Other information
Despite winning gold in the women's 4x100m medley relay 34 points and bronze in the individual S10 100m backstroke at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she says she considers the 2016 Games as one of the lowest points of her career. Following the Games, she left her training base at Great Britain's National Performance Centre in Manchester and moved first to Bournemouth, England, and then to Ealing Swimming Club in London, England, to rediscover her passion for swimming. "Rio was about the time I lost my love for the sport. I felt like I needed to be out of that environment [after Rio 2016] so I went back home [to Bournemouth] to my very first swim coaches and started training with them a little bit. It was really about almost learning to love swimming again. In Manchester there were five or six of us and there was only one [Para swimmer] per session who I could train with and race against, but now I can always race someone every session. I might be doing fly against someone's breaststroke but there is always someone I can push myself against. For me, having the whole squad pretty much being faster than me is such an amazing motivation." (, 05 Sep 2019;, 09 Sep 2019)

She considers the social aspect of swimming important to her enjoyment of the sport. It was one of the motivating factors behind her decision to switch from the National Performance Centre in Manchester, England, to Ealing Swimming Club in London, England, and has led her to pursue training opportunities abroad. "It was so mentally draining [in Manchester], not having a social circle outside of the six other swimmers was quite toxic. I'm really bad when I just swim. I've tried to make it a bit more social for myself, as I realised it was quite isolating. There are swimmers all over the world and I see them once a year at a major competition, I might as well reach out and make friends with some of them. So I've been to Milan [Italy] a couple of times this year [2019] to train." (, 05 Sep 2019;, 09 Sep 2019)

She has played electric guitar and bass in a band called 'Blush!'. "I always just enjoyed music. We will be putting some music out just because we enjoy it. If other people like it enough to make a career out of it, then that's great as well." (Facebook profile, 11 Feb 2021; Twitter profile, 23 Feb 2021;, 02 Mar 2020;, 31 Dec 2020)

She has been part of the athlete advisory group for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. "I'm honoured that I can hopefully positively contribute to the Commonwealth Games experience and make it as memorable as possible. It allows me to share athletes' voices and opinions around the Games - hopefully I can make someone's first Games as special as mine were and help make those amazing memories for them." (Facebook profile, 12 Nov 2020;, 12 Nov 2020)

In September 2019 she began studying neuroscience at Middlesex University London in England. She had previously studied music at the University of West London before transferring. (, 05 Sep 2019;, 09 Sep 2019;, 19 Dec 2019)


Unit Date Rank
2015 IPC Swimming World Championships (Glasgow, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 50 m Freestyle S10 Heat 1 2015-07-13 10
Women's 100 m Backstroke S10 Heat 2 2015-07-16 3
Women's 100 m Backstroke S10 Final 1 2015-07-16 3
Women's 4x100 m Freestyle 34pts Final 1 2015-07-16 3
Women's 100 m Butterfly S10 Final 1 2015-07-17 3
Women's 100 m Butterfly S10 Heat 2 2015-07-17 2
Women's 100 m Freestyle S10 Heat 2 2015-07-18 9
Women's 400 m Freestyle S10 Heat 1 2015-07-19 9
Women's 4x100 m Medley 34pts Final 1 2015-07-19 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S10 Final Round 2016-09-10 3
Women's 100 m Backstroke S10 Heat 1 2016-09-10 1
Women's 100 m Butterfly S10 Final Round 2016-09-12 7
Women's 100 m Butterfly S10 Heat 1 2016-09-12 4
Women's 100 m Freestyle S10 Heat 2 2016-09-13 4
Women's 4x100 m Freestyle 34pts Final Round 2016-09-15 4
Women's 4x100 m Medley 34pts Final Round 2016-09-16 1