Ellie Cole is a four-time Paralympian who has amassed an incredible 17 Paralympic medals (including six gold), 10 world championship medals and four Commonwealth Games medals. She has broken numerous Australian and world records and was the first female S9 swimmer to break 29 seconds in the 50m freestyle when she touched the wall in 28.75 at the 2016 Australian Swimming Championships – smashing her idol Natalie du Toit’s decade old record.
The NSWIS scholarship holder is a four-time Commonwealth Games medallist and made her Commonwealth Games debut as an 18-year-old at the Delhi 2010 Games winning bronze in the women’s S9 100m freestyle and S9 100m butterfly events. After missing the Glasgow 2014 Games due to injury rehabilitation, Cole returned at the Gold Coast 2018 Games to win silver in S9 100m backstroke and bronze in the S9 100m freestyle.
Ellie has been instrumental in promoting the para-sport movement across Australia, not only for Paralympics Australia but also for the Commonwealth Sport Movement. The 2022 Birmingham Games will be her third Commonwealth Games and the champion swimmer has indicated she plans to end her illustrious career with a final splash and dash there.
At the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Ellie was part of the relay teams that won silver in the women’s 4 × 100 m freestyle 34 pts and bronze in the women’s 4 × 100 m medley. In claiming the medley bronze, Cole’s seventeenth Paralympic medal, she became Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian, surpassing the previous record held by swimmer Priya Cooper.
Ellie made her international swimming debut just shy of her 15th birthday at the 2006 IPC Swimming World Championships where she won silver in the 100m backstroke. At the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games she bagged another silver medal, in the 100m butterfly, along with two bronze medals.
Dominating the pool at the London 2012 Paralympics, Ellie claimed four gold and two bronze medals. Following the Paralympics, Ellie underwent a double shoulder reconstruction and faced the prospect of never swimming again. Defying the odds, she returned to international competition at the 2015 World Para Swimming Championships where she not only won five medals – three gold, two silver and a bronze – but broke the world record twice in one day in the 100m backstroke.
At the Rio 2016 Paralympics Ellie medalled in all six of her events, defending her Paralympic gold in the 100m backstroke and in the 4x100m freestyle relay (34 points), breaking the world record Cole and her Australian teammates had set four years earlier in London.
Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian and swimming trailblazer marked the conclusion of her distinguished career in the pool, placing fifth in the S9 100m freestyle (1:04.21) at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.