Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington has confirmed her retirement from competitive swimming.
The 23-year-old's future has been the subject of much debate since she claimed two bronze medals at the London Olympics last summer. At a press conference in London, the Mansfield-born swimmer confirmed she was bringing to an end a glittering career that has brought her Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth titles.
"I hate the word retire. I love swimming but as a competitive element and elite athlete I won't compete any more," she said. "I'll always be swimming even when I am 90 years old."
She added: "I certainly can't compete with that (younger swimmers). I can't do the same level of work, I need far more time for recovery. It's time. Beijing changed my entire life, everyone wanted to learn about me. It was the best moment of my entire career. I am so glad my (800m) world record still stands."
Adlington also paid tribute to her family and her coach Bill Furniss, who became British Swimming's head coach on Monday. She added: "I couldn't have done it without my family. Even my sisters, they helped me with my homework.
"Bill is the biggest thing....he has helped me as an athlete as much as a person. Now I've not got Bill with me, I feel a little bit lost. The medals - they are not just mine - they are my family's, Bill's. I think he is going to do such a brilliant job (as GB head coach)."
While Adlington looks to the future, never did she envisage her own career would culminate in the global success she earned. Her partnership with coach Bill Furniss at Nova Centurion started when she was 12 although at the time it was not such an appealing prospect to the young Adlington.
"I cried my eyes out when they told me I had to go and be coached by Bill," she added. "I was at a different club at the time and I didn't know Bill and I was like 'I don't want to leave all my friends' and just started crying.
"But straight away we clicked but it was never something I thought at that stage that I would go on to the Olympics.
"That wasn't why I did it. I just wanted to go and learn and I loved going."