Ellen Keane

Paralympic Medallist, Multiple World Para Swimming Medalist, Ireland’s youngest Paralympian, Campaigner for greater understanding of disability, Positive Body Image advocate  

From Clontarf, in Dublin, 23-year-old Ellen was born with an undeveloped left arm. Her parents treat her any differently to her siblings and Ellen did weekly swimming lessons in the pool with them.

At an early age she swam in a disability competition in Lisburn and showed her real competitive potential. From then on, Keane was hooked, and she joined an able-bodied swimming club and that experience was key to her pursuing her dream of being a Paralympic athlete.

Ellen became Ireland’s youngest ever athlete when she swam in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. At just 13 years old, she competed impressively, placing sixth in the 100m breaststroke.

The pinnacle of her career to date has been the Paralympic Games in 2016 Rio when she made the podium, at her third Paralympic Games claiming a brilliant bronze medal in the final of the 100m Breaststroke. She also has three bronze medals from World Championships in 2013 and 2015.

Her long-term target is the next Paralympic Games 2020 in Tokyo.  In 2018 she has the exciting prospect of competing in the IPC European Championships in Dublin 2018.

Sharing her story, to change people’s perspective on disability and empower those who happen to have a disability is also very important to Ellen.  She wants to use her performance as a platform to normalise the stigma surrounding disabilities.

She is an advocate for positive body image, her remarkable journey from self-conscious ‘girl with one arm’ to Paralympic swimming medallist at the Rio 2016 Games, is a story about self-acceptance. By learning to embrace and celebrate what made her different changed her entire life for the positive.

Studying Culinary Entrepreneurship in DIT, Ellen has a passion for healthy food and is a mean baker too. Loves style & fashion and is still on the hunt for the ultimate waterproof mascara. Her nickname is Nemo, because she too has a lucky fin.

Key Achievements

  • 2017: Won numerous medals at the World Para Swimming Series
  • 2016: Bronze at the Rio Paralympic Games, in the 100m breaststroke 2016 and made finals in both the Backstroke and Butterfly swimming personal bests in both.
  • 2015: In Glasgow in 2015, she took a bronze medal in the 200m Individual Medley final (SM9) setting a new lifetime best.
  • 2014: After completing her Leaving Certificate, she had three 4th place finishes at the IPC European Championships and swim two lifetime bests at the European Championships in Eindhoven.
  • 2013: IPC World Championships in Montreal won two Bronze medals
  • 2012: Paralympic Games in London made three finals.
  • 2008: Became Ireland’s youngest Paralympian


  • Disability, how to be more inclusive in your workplace
  • Perfectly Imperfect
  • Self-Acceptance and positive body image
  • Performance, what it takes to be World Class
  • Food for Performance

Worked With:

Toyota Ireland, Allianz, TEDx, Zeminar, Science Gallery Body Talk

Contact Us

“Ellen was a key part of the Zeminar 2017 line-up and a pleasure to deal with from beginning to end. Her message about loving your body and embracing your talents really hit home with attendees of all ages, and her uplifting style was filled with an infectious positivity!”

Ian Fitzpatrick - Founder of Zeminar