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Adlington retires from competitive swimming

5 February 2013

Britain’s most successful swimmer of all time Rebecca Adlington has announced her retirement from swimming.

Adlington, who has won four Olympic medals in two Games including two gold in Beijing in 2008 became the most successful British swimmer when she added another two bronzes in London in 2012.

"I love swimming - I'll always be swimming, even when I am 90 years old," - Rebecca Adlington"It was a gradual decision. I wanted to leave on top," said Adlington at a press conference in London this morning. "I hate the word retire. I love swimming but as a competitive element and elite athlete I won't compete any more. I'll always be swimming even when I am 90 years old.

"I have achieved everything I wanted to. Some people want to milk it all they can. I've always said I wanted to finish on a high, despite my love of the sport.

"It's such a hard decision and all the harder when you're not fully ready. So many make comebacks because they have regrets over things that they left unfinished or because they quit too soon.

"I had to be ready in my heart, mind and body and I had to make sure it was coming from me. I've thought about it long and hard because I didn't want to be one of those with regrets. I'm 100% certain: I'm definitely ready to go and will move on with no regrets and no reason to make a comeback."

Adlington won her first international medal as a 17-year old with 800m Freestyle silver at the 2006 European Championships in Budapest before becoming an international champion for the first time with 800m Freestyle gold in front of a home crowd in Manchester at the 2008 World Short Course Championships.

Little more than six months later, 19-year old Adlington became a household name in the UK, doubling up to win 400m Freestyle and 800m Freestyle gold on her Olympic debut at Beijing 2008.

Her world record time of 8:14.10 to win gold over the longer distance in Beijing remains unsurpassed and is the longest-standing women's long course swimming record for an Olympic distance.

Over the next three years, Adlington was a consistent medal-winner for the British Gas GBR Swimming Team, winning European gold (400m Freestyle) and double Commonwealth gold (400m Freestyle / 800m Freestyle) in 2010 before completing her collection of international titles with World Championship gold (800m Freestyle) in 2011.

She rounded off her international career with two memorable bronze medals over 400m Freestyle and 800m Freestyle at London 2012, becoming the first British woman in history to win Olympic swimming medals in individual events at consecutive Games.

Adlington's next focus will be what she describes as "her biggest challenge and greatest legacy" as she launches Becky Adlington Swim Stars - her campaign to make sure every child can swim 25m by the time the leave primary school.

David Sparkes, CEO of British Swimming said: "Rebecca has without doubt been Britain's greatest ever female swimmer of all time. She has left a great legacy for our young athletes demonstrating that with hard work talent and commitment anything is possible.

"She is without doubt a world superstar in aquatics. We hope to continue to work closely with Rebecca now encouraging every young child to swim, get more people swimming and mentoring young athletes to follow in her footsteps."

Double World Open Water Champion Keri-anne Payne paid tribute to her team mate and roommate,"I will miss sharing a room with Becky and her presence will be missed on teams in the future," she said.

"Becky has done so much for swimming in Britain and I'm sure she will stay close to the sport and continue to champion future British Olympians. I also know that she will be just as successful in her new projects as she was in swimming."

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