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female Para swimmer Ellen Keane smiles and holds up her gold medal

Ellen Keane

Swimming
1

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
S9, SB8, SM9

Further personal information

Residence
Dublin, IRL
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
Gaelic, English
Higher education
Culinary Studies - Technological University Dublin: Ireland

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
The youngest of four siblings, she was brought to swim classes with her older brothers and sister. She began competing at age seven in Dublin, Ireland.
Why this sport?
Her father contacted the mother of a Paralympian who had the same arm impairment as her, and she was subsequently invited to a Para swimming competition. "Geraldine Conway, manager of the Irish Paralympic swim team, contacted my dad and invited me to compete in a disability swimming competition in Northern Ireland to see if I enjoyed swimming competitively. It wasn't really anything that I was expecting, but I realised that I loved competing and I loved the control that gave me."
Club / Team
National Aquatic Centre [NAC]: Dublin, IRL
Name of coach
Dave Malone [club], IRL

International debut

Year
2008
Competing for
Ireland

General interest

Hobbies
Listening to music, going to concerts, cooking, baking. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the SB8 100m breaststroke at the 2018 European Championships in Dublin, Ireland. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019; independent.ie, 20 Aug 2018)
Most influential person in career
Coach Dave Malone. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019)
Hero / Idol
Irish Para swimmer and coach Dave Malone. (Athlete, 09 Sep 2019)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Don't practise until it's perfect, practise so you can never get it wrong." (Athlete, 12 Jul 2015)
Awards and honours
She was named Para Swimmer of the Year at the 2018 Swim Ireland Annual Awards. (swimswam.com, 26 Nov 2018)
Milestones
At age 13 years and 154 days she became the youngest Irish athlete to compete at a Paralympic Games when she took part in the 2008 Games in Beijing. (paralympics.ie, 04 Jul 2018; realwire.com, 03 Apr 2019; SportsDeskOnline, 18 Mar 2020)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. She also aspires to work as a media broadcaster. (the42.ie, 31 Dec 2016; allianz.ie, 29 Mar 2019)
Impairment
She was born without her left arm below the elbow. (Ireland Team Guide, 2018)
Other information
FUTURE PLANS
She aspires to work as a media broadcaster once her sporting career is over. "The reason why I became so insecure about my arm is because there was nobody in the media like me. There was nobody for me to relate to. I would like to go into media because I want to be seen." (allianz.ie, 29 Mar 2019)

TED TALK
In 2017 she gave a talk at a TEDx event at Griffith College in Dublin, Ireland, where she discussed her impairment and how she learned to cope with her insecurities in the swimming pool. "The only time I felt truly happy was when I was swimming. Born without an arm below the left elbow I learnt to accept who I was when I first attended college. Swimsuits don't have sleeves so I think my arm is my lucky fin as I wouldn't be the person I am today without my impairment." (TEDx Talks YouTube channel, 12 Apr 2017)

COMMEMORATIVE TATTOO
At age 18, five years after competing at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, she had the motto of the Beijing Games, 'One world, one dream' tattooed on her back. (allianz.ie, 29 Mar 2019)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games (Beijing, China)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Heat 1 6
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Heat 2 6
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Final Round 6
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Heat 2 2
IPC Swimming World Championships Eindhoven 2010 (Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Final Round 7
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Heat 2 2
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Heat 3 3
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Final Round 6
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Heat 2 2
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Final Round 2012-08-30 7
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Heat 1 2012-08-30 4
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Heat 1 2012-09-06 3
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Final Round 2012-09-06 7
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB9 Heat 1 2012-09-08 4
2013 IPC Swimming World Championships (Montreal, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Freestyle S9 Heat 1 2013-08-12 9
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Heat 2 2013-08-13 7
Women's 50 m Freestyle S9 Heat 1 2013-08-13 8
Women's 50 m Freestyle S9 Final 1 2013-08-13 6
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Final 1 2013-08-13 6
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Final 1 2013-08-15 3
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Heat 1 2013-08-15 2
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Final 1 2013-08-17 3
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Heat 2 2013-08-17 3
2015 IPC Swimming World Championships (Glasgow, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S9 Heat 1 2015-07-13 9
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Heat 2 2015-07-14 2
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Final 1 2015-07-14 5
Women's 100 m Freestyle S9 Heat 1 2015-07-14 17
Women's 50 m Freestyle S9 Heat 2 2015-07-16 15
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Heat 2 2015-07-17 8
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Final 1 2015-07-17 8
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Heat 1 2015-07-19 2
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Final 1 2015-07-19 3
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM9 Heat 3 2016-09-11 4
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Final Round 2016-09-14 3
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB8 Heat 1 2016-09-14 1
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Heat 2 2016-09-15 2
Women's 100 m Butterfly S9 Final Round 2016-09-15 8
Women's 100 m Backstroke S9 Final Round 2016-09-16 8
Women's 100 m Backstroke S9 Heat 2 2016-09-16 3