WORLD record holder Gemma Spofforth has announced her retirement from swimming.
The 24-year-old, Shoreham-born Olympian, who currently holds the 100m backstroke world record which she achieved in Rome in 2009, has called time on her career.
Spofforth, who grew up swimming in Littlehampton and Bognor, made her last individual appearance in the sport at the London 2012 Olympics where she finished fifth in the 100 backstroke final, 0.37secs off the podium.
Speaking to The Times and SwimNews, Spofforth said: “I have had a very turbulent career and I feel that I cannot top a home crowd in London or a world record in Rome.
“I cannot top the experiences I have had and most importantly the friends I have made through the sport. When it comes down to it, the races and competition are not what will stay with me, the people and friends I have met and made will stay with me forever.”
Retirement had always been Spofforth’s plan after London, indicating that the 100m backstroke final could be her final individual race, but after finishing last in the 4x100 relay in the capital, she had appeared to backtrack.
She hinted that the prospect of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, could tempt her to stay on.
At the time, she said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I came into this meet thinking that would be it but I think I will keep the door open and I might keep going. The Commonwealths are in Glasgow and that would be awesome.
“I am going to take a long break and revaluate things. I don’t think I will train the same way, maybe I will just focus on the sprint. I am definitely keeping the door open.
“Four years is a very long time. I will take some time out but I have not had a proper holiday in about four years so hopefully I will able to take this passion I have now.”
Although she has resorted to her original plan of retirement, and, having taken up voluntary coaching at the University of Florida, in America, she will now submit retirement papers to domestic and international federations next week.