FOUR-TIME Olympic medallist Rebecca Adlington’s career in the pool is set to come to an end with the 23-year-old expected to announce her retirement today.
The Mansfield-born swimmer last week called a press conference in London promising a major announcement, and it appears she will step away from competitive swimming.
Yesterday’s announcement that her mentor Bill Furniss has been named as Great Britain head coach also seems to bring the news a step closer.
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Her plans have been the subject of debate for some time, her assertion in the autumn that London was her last Olympics prompting a flurry of questions.
Adlington’s future was inextricably linked to Furniss’ plans, the pair having forged a partnership at Nova Centurion since she was 12, and next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were clearly an attraction.
She maintained she would return to heavy training in January after which she would come to a decision, one that appears to be she will step away from competition.
While she will outline her plans for the future, there is little doubt Adlington will remain in the sport in some capacity given her passion for swimming.
Adlington already runs swim schools and has been vocal in her desire for children to be fully versed in water safety from a young age.
Whatever her plans, Adlington’s exit from British swimming will leave a big void to be filled – both in and out of the water.
Since claiming the 800 metres freestyle silver medal at the 2006 European Championships, Adlington has won titles at Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth level.
She is the most successful British swimmer of the modern era and her double triumph in Beijing saw her become the first Briton to win two golds in an Olympic pool since Henry Taylor in 1908.
On her exit from the pool after taking more than two seconds off Janet Evans’ world record in the 800 metres freestyle – which had stood for more than 20 years, at that point the longest standing – Furniss asked: ‘‘What have you just done?’’ He had long been expected to be appointed to the head coach role with previous incumbent Dennis Pursley having returned to his native United States immediately after the pool programme ended in London.
However, any announcement was delayed until the post-Games review into the below-par performance – when just three medals, two for Adlington, were claimed – was concluded.