Olympic swimmer Helen Smart was found dead by her 4-year-old daughter only hours after she was seen paddle boarding.
The 42-year-old mother was lifeless when her daughter Heidi tried to wake her up early in the morning as they were about to have a family celebration.
According to reports, the family were at a large cottage in Lake District and the mother-of-two was seen paddle boarding hours before she was found unresponsive.
Helen was a world-level competitive swimmer and backstroke specialist. She scooped a bronze medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and won silver medals at the World and European Championships.
Speaking to Mail Online, Helen’s mother Linda said: “Heidi had woken up in the night and tried to get into bed with her. She said to her daddy: ‘’Mummy won’t wake up.’
“He said: ‘Oh she must be very tired Heidi – you go back to bed.’ He put the torch on and he said later that when he looked he could tell.”
The grieving mother continued: “We are just in so much shock. You jump from believing it to not believing it.
“She had been paddle boarding a few hours before and had never even been ill apart from her knees swelling from swimming.
“We’re distraught. They don’t know what it is but they think it must have happened shortly after she went to bed. She just died in her sleep.”
Helen had gone to the banks of Lake Coniston with her husband, daughter Heidi, and young son Stanly, along with her parents Linda and John, and her brother’s family.
“At midnight, she went to bed telling me: ‘I’ll go to bed now mum as I know I’ll be woken at 6am by Heidi,” Linda recalled.
“Rober woke us up at 4am and said: ‘Mum, dad you need to keep up – we think Helen’s died,” Linda continued. “We just ran up and followed up and there she was in bed.
“I touched her foot and she was cold. I walked round and to the side of her and she looked asleep but you could tell she was gone.”
Helen’s heartbroken dad took to Facebook and paid tribute to his daughter. He shared a photo of him, his partner, Linda and Helen smiling together and wrote: “Helen was our pride and joy… we are so proud of her… she lit up a room as soon as she arrived.. Linda and I can’t comprehend how she could just simply go to sleep and not wake up?! Xx.”
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