Rebecca Adlington Announces 'Retirement'

The double Olympic Champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington has officially announced her retirement from the sport at the age of 23.

Speaking at a press conference in London, Adlington, whose career has brought her Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles, says she no longer has what it takes to compete with younger swimmers.

She said: "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 world record still stands."

Success in the pool at London 2012 was dominated by the young. The Chinese swimmer, Ye Shiwen, astonished the sport with her freestyle comeback in the 400m individual medley to take the gold at the age of just 16. She was faster than the men's winner Ryan Lochte.

Adlington herself finished third in the 800m freestyle behind 15-year-old US swimmer Katie Ledecky.

Speculation over Adlington's future has been rife since she missed out on golds in the 400m and 800m freestyle events at London 2012, apologising to the home crowd for doing so despite winning two bronze medals.

She confirmed shortly afterwards that she would not be competing at Rio in 2016.

Speaking today, she said: "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."

Swimming is a sport where competitors reach their peak at a young age. The American swimmer Michael Phelps, has enjoyed a long career but he also retired this year at the age of 27, drawing a close to a career that saw him win 18 Olympic golds, 22 Olympic medals in all.

Phelps was one of the first to congratulate Adlington on her retirement and wish her luck for the future.

In a statement he said: "Her accomplishments speak for themselves, she has been a great representative for British Swimming and the sport over all. I congratulate her on a fantastic career and wish her all the best in the future."

Adlington has now set her sights on teaching young people to swim and in a message on her personal website says that while she is proud of what she has achieved, she's "not finished yet".

She said: "My vision is that every child in Britain will be able to swim 25 metres by the time they leave primary school. Being able to swim is such a wonderful life skill, and I see this as my greatest challenge in swimming."

Her retirement statement came 24 hours after her coach since the age of 12, Bill Furniss was announced as the new Great Britain coach.

She paid tribute to him and said he was "going to do such a brilliant job".