Quick Facts

Physical Impairment – Below elbow limb deficiency
How acquired
Date of Birth
March 26, 1996
Sunbury, VIC
Started Competing
First Competed for Australia
Games Experience

Rio 2016


Ellie Cole and Matthew Cowdrey

Career Highlights

Gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay 34 points at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow


Ashleigh McConnell soared to Paralympic glory at her first Paralympic Games in Rio, when she and her 4 x 100m freestyle relay team mates finished their race in world record time.

Ecstatic with the result and her contribution to the team, she says winning gold alongside some of her fellow team mates and closest friends has been her sports career highlight to date.

Ashleigh was born without her left hand or forearm.  When she was four-years-old she learned to swim in the hope it would encourage her older sister to learn as well. She also played basketball and did karate and dance, preferring to balance multiple sports at one time.

Ashleigh was first selected to represent Australia at the 2010 Arafura Games in Darwin, and was a stand-out at the 2013 GHSF Australian Age Multi-class Championships in Adelaide, where she accumulated seven age champion titles.

Ashleigh came within 0.12 seconds of the qualifying time for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. She also narrowly missed inclusion in the Australian contingent of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Pan Pacific Para-swimming Championships later that month.

Making her international debut the following year at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Ashleigh was awarded a gold medal in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay 34 points. Although this was her career highlight at the time, she had no idea that this would be an insight of what was to come just a year later.

Ashleigh is coached by Alex Hirschauer and Brad Harris. She trains six days per week alongside her best friend and driving instructor Monique Murphy.

Although she hopes to attend the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Ashleigh is already preparing for a post-swimming career by studying business at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

When she’s not training, competing or getting an education, the Sunbury local enjoys baking and dressing up her cats.

Sports & Disciplines

  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 100m freestyle Classification: S9
  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 400m freestyle Classification: S9
  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 4x100m freestyle relay Classification: S9
  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 4x100m medley relay Classification: S9
  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 50m freestyle Classification: S9