This decision wasn’t easy and has been a long process which is why it’s taken me this long after the Games to tell everyone. I was always going to have a break from training until Christmas after last summer. When you’ve been training 50 weeks of the year for over 10 years your body needs a rest!
I think now is the right time to call time on my competitive career. I’ve worked hard for so long and had the massive honour of representing my country at all the major meets. I’ve got to experience a lot of competitions and different challenges since Beijing. Now having been to a home Games as well, it was a once in a lifetime experience.
As a female distance swimmer, I believe, unfortunately, I have passed my best. I could carry on, but I don’t think I could realistically get back to my very best.
Swimming has become a very ‘young’ sport for females. The girl who won the Olympic Gold in the 800m in London, Katie Ledecky, was 15. My body simply can’t do what it used to be able to do when I was in my teens. It seems right to focus on my other passions and set myself new challenges. I would love to stay involved in the sport at both an elite level and grass roots level as swimming is what I know and love.
I have the most incredible memories from over the past 10 years. Not just the medals but all the amazing times I’ve had on trips and all the people I’ve met. From my very first competition abroad in 2003 at Youth Olympics to my last, the 2012 London Olympics. It’s been an amazing journey. It’s been a lot of hard work but I’ve loved every second of it. I wouldn’t change anything in my career and I have no regrets.
My personal highlights of my career date back to 2008. Winning two Olympic Gold medals and setting a world record, I still to this day cant believe it! It changed my life. Also, my 800m Freestyle podium at the London Olympics is a moment I will treasure and remember for the rest of my life. Hearing 17,000 people chant and cheer your name was so overwhelming and heart warming.
For the past four to five years since Beijing I’ve wanted to use my profile to try and encourage and inspire more people to swim. When you hear the statistics of people that can’t swim in the UK they shock me. Not only have I had so much fun within the sport, but I firmly believe it’s a life skill. Knowing how to swim can save lives. We live on an island, surrounded by sea, lakes and rivers and unfortunately in this country a lot of floods!
I have been involved in Learn To Swim through my sponsors Speedo and British Gas over the years. It’s now natural for me to take my own steps into Learn To Swim.
My vision and goal is that every child in the UK should leave primary school being able to swim 25 metres. Ambitious I know, but I believe I can use my profile and passion, and a lot of hard work, to achieve this vision. It will be my biggest ever challenge in swimming. I never thought five years ago I would have four Olympic medals, so I know if you work hard and love something enough anything can happen.
I’m very excited to step into the next chapter and adventure by launching Becky Adlington’s SwimStars. I will be partnering with a leading UK leisure centre operator as well as hotel groups, schools and councils. While I hope I’ve left an legacy for the next generation of British swim stars, I want my biggest legacy to be no child in Britain leaving primary school unable to swim 25 metres.
I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life. Exciting times ahead!