Rachael Watson wrote herself a page in the history books in 2016, when – at her first Paralympic Games – she won a gold medal and set a new Paralympic record in the women’s 50m freestyle S4.

Doubling as Rachael’s international debut, it marked an incredible rise to the top for the young Queenslander, who only two years earlier had been struck down by Guillain-Barré syndrome – in essence, Rachael’s immune system mistakenly attacked her peripheral nervous system, paralysing her. This came after Rachael was a triplet born four months prematurely, which led to her acquiring spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.

Para-swimming formed part of her physiotherapy.

Classified as an S4 athlete in 2015, Rachael first caught the attention of the Australian Para-swimming team’s coaching staff at the 2016 Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide, SA, where she came within a hair’s breadth of the women’s 100m freestyle S4 world record. The …

Read More
Date of birth
30 January 1992
Past Paralympic Games

Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020

Physical Impairment – Guillain-Barré syndrome, spastic diplegia cerebral palsy
How acquired
Unknown, premature birth
Brisbane, QLD
Started competing
First competed for Australia
Sport career highlights

Winning a gold medal in the women’s 50m freestyle S4 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Greatest sporting moments

Being named to the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team

Heroes/role models

Dawn Fraser

Favourite quote
Dream, believe, achieve


  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 50m breaststroke Classification: SB3
  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 50m freestyle Classification: S4
  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 150m individual medley Classification: SM4
  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 4x50m freestyle Classification: S4
  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 4x50m medley Classification: S4

Social Media