Heather Frederiksen

Heather Frederiksen MBE (born 30 December 1985) is a retired British Paralympic swimmer. She is former world record holder in the Women's S8 100 m backstroke, 50 m freestyle, 100 m freestyle, 200 m freestyle and 400 m freestyle events. As of June 2017, she still holds European records in the S8 200 m and 400 m freestyle.[2][4] Frederiksen is a two time Paralympic champion in the 100m backstroke S8 classification, and has won eight Paralympic medals in all.[5]

Heather Frederiksen
Heather Frederiksen swimmer in 2009.png
Frederiksen at the 2009 IPC European Championships
Personal information
Full nameHeather Frederiksen
Born (1985-12-30) 30 December 1985 (age 34)
Leigh, Greater Manchester, England[1]
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight69 kg (152 lb; 10.9 st)[2]
ClubCity of Manchester Aquatics Swim Team[3]

Early life and educationEdit

Frederiksen was born in Leigh, England. She attended the Lowton Church of England High School for secondary school.[6]


In 2004, prior to her accident, she won both the British 10 km Open Water Championship and 4.5 km British Grand Prix on the same day.[3]

Following her accident, Frederiksen returned to competition in the S8 (backstroke and freestyle), SB7 (breaststroke) and SM8 (medley) classifications. Her first senior para-swimming meet came at the 2007 German Open, in Berlin.[2][7]

In her first appearance at the British Championships in 2008 Frederiksen won two gold and two silver medals from her six events and set a number of national records.[2] At the 2008 Summer Paralympics, in Beijing, she competed in five events and won four medals.[8] Her first medal, a silver in the women's 100 m freestyle – S8 final on 8 September, was followed two days later by gold in the women's 100 m backstroke – S8 in a new IPC world record time of one minute 16.74 seconds.[9] A bronze medal was won by Frederiksen in the 200 m individual medley and her final medal of the games came with a silver in the 400 m freestyle. In her final event, the 50 m freestyle, she reached the final but finished in 7th position.[1] In all three races where Frederikson won silver or bronze medals it was American Jessica Long who won the gold medal.[10]

An in-competition drug test at the 2009 IPC Swimming European Championships found high levels of Salbutamol in Frederiksen's bloodstream. Frederiksen is asthmatic, and had used the medication to abort a severe asthma attack. She received a 6 months doping ban, backdated to the day of the drug test, and had to forfeit the two medals she won later in the competition. [11][12]

The 2012 Summer Paralympics saw Frederiksen claim another gold medal in the 100 m backstroke S8,[13] along with silver medals in both the 400 m freestyle S8 and 100 m freestyle S8.[14]

In October 2012 Heather Frederiksen (and silver medallist Louise Watkin) left the City of Salford, according to BBC Sport, as a result of a breakdown in the relationship with coach John Stout.[15]

She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to swimming.[16]

Frederiksen retired from competitive swimming in 2013, after becoming pregnant with her first child.[17][18]


At the end of 2004, Frederiksen suffered a serious accident that left her with limited use of her right arm and leg, and the need to use a wheelchair. Her doctors told her she would never swim again, and when she tried she found herself swimming in circles.[3][19]

It was in 2006, whilst watching television coverage of the swimming events at the Commonwealth Games, in Melbourne, that Frederiksen decided she wanted to swim again. After her Paralympic success she said of the experience, "I saw Joanne Jackson win the gold in the 400 m and I just said to myself, 'I'm not ready to finish. I'll finish when I want to finish, not when someone else tells me to'"—she had previously competed against Jackson.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Athlete Biography FREDERIKSEN Heather". The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d "British Swimming and the asa: Heather Frederiksen". British Swimming. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d Hart, Simon (11 September 2008). "Heather Frederiksen proves the doctors wrong with gold medal in Beijing". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  4. ^ https://www.paralympic.org/swimming/records
  5. ^ "Paralympics 2012: Heather Frederiksen wins backstroke gold". Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  6. ^ "Gold Medal Winner Heather Frederiksen Inspires Lowton Church of England High Students". The Bolton News. 25 February 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  7. ^ "A-Z of Paralympic classification". BBC Sport. 28 August 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  8. ^ "Medallists GBR – Great Britain". The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  9. ^ "Frederiksen leads swimming charge". BBC Sport. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  10. ^ "Athlete Biography LONG Jessica". The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Archived from the original on 12 September 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  11. ^ "Paralympic swimmer Heather Frederiksen stripped of medals after failing drug test". The Telegraph. 10 May 2010.
  12. ^ "British Swimming battle to support Heather Frederiksen after doping ban". The Telegraph. 1 June 2010.
  13. ^ "ParalympicsGB's London 2012 medal roll of honour". BBC Sports. Retrieved 6 September 2012. Heather Frederiksen – Women's 100m Backstroke – S8. How she did it: Heather took her second medal of the Paralympics and her first gold with a time of 1:17.00, finishing a full 1.67 ahead of her nearest rival.
  14. ^ "Heather Frederiksen – Events and results". london2012.com. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  15. ^ "Heather Frederiksen and Louise Watkin split from coach and club". Nik Hope (BBC Sport). Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  16. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 25.
  17. ^ "Heather Frederiksen: Paralympic swimming champion retires". BBC. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Double Paralympic champion swimmer Frederiksen retires to start family". 13 November 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  19. ^ "Gold and world record for Frederiksen". Website of the British Paralympic Association. 2008–2009. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2009.