Rebecca Adlington has announced her retirement from competitive swimming.

The 23-year-old under-performed at the London 2012 Olympics as she took bronze in the 400metres and 800m freestyle.

Four years previously she memorably hit the mainstream with two golds at the Beijing Games, triumphing in the 400m freestyle to become the first woman to win swimming gold for Great Britain since Anita Lonsbrough in 1960.

rebecca adlington

Adlington shows off her two London 2012 bronze medals

She eventually became the first British swimmer to win more than one gold medal at a single Games since Henry Taylor won three in 1908 after victory in the 800m.

Adlington said: "I hate the word retire. I love swimming but as a competitive element and elite athlete I won't compete any more.


Matthew Pinsent
Farewell then to one of Team GB's heroines. "Retiring" doesn't seem the right word at 23 (and 'quit' is horrible too).

"I'll always be swimming even when I am 90 years old."

"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 world record still stands."

The Olympian's retirement comes after UK Sport cut the swimming budget by £4m after its poor performance at London 2012 after a return of only three medals.

rebecca adlington

Adlington celebrates her 400m win at Beijing in 2008

Bill Furniss, who became British Swimming's head coach yesterday, was namechecked by Adlington as she bowed out.

"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.

rebecca adlington

Adlington with her 2008 golds

"Now I've not got Bill without 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)."

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  • Olympics & Paralympics Team GB - London 2012 Victory Parade

    LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: British Olympic swimmer gold medalist Rebecca Adlington waves to the crowd during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

  • Olympics & Paralympics Team GB - London 2012 Victory Parade

    LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Swimming bronze medalist Rebecca Adlington waves to the crowd during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Olympics & Paralympics Team GB - London 2012 Victory Parade

    LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Swimming bronze medalist Rebecca Adlington waves to the crowd during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Olympics & Paralympics Team GB - London 2012 Victory Parade

    LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Swimming bronze medalist Rebecca Adlington waves to the crowd during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 7 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington shows her emotion following the podium for the medal ceremony of the Women's 800m Freestyle on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 7 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington shows her emotion following the podium for the medal ceremony of the Women's 800m Freestyle on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 7 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington looks on during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 7 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain looks on as Gold medallist Katie Ledecky of the United States celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 7 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington shows her emotion on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 7 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

  • Britain's Rebecca Adlington reacts after

    Britain's Rebecca Adlington reacts after winning bronze in the women's 800m freestyle final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 3, 2012 in London. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Olympics Day 2 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain poses on the podium during the medal ceremony following the Women's 400m Freestyle final on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 2 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain celebrates after winning the bronze in the Women's 400m Freestyle final on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 2 - Swimming

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Silver medallist Allison Schmitt of the United States, gold medallist Camille Muffat of France and bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain pose on the podium during the medal ceremony following the Women's 400m Freestyle final on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 29, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • British Gas Swimming Championships - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Seven

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: (R-L) Bronze medallist Keri-Anne Payne of Stockport Metro SC, Gold medallist Rebecca Adlington of Nova Centurion SC and Silver medallist Eleanor Faulkner of City of Sheffield Swim Squad in the Women’s 800m Freestyle Final during day seven of the British Gas Swimming Championships at The London Aquatics Centre on March 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

  • British Gas Swimming Championships - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Seven

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Rebecca Adlington of Nova Centurion SC wins the Gold medal in the Women’s 800m Freestyle Final during day seven of the British Gas Swimming Championships at The London Aquatics Centre on March 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

  • British Gas Swimming Championships - LOCOG Test Event for London 2012: Day Two

    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Rebecca Adlington of Nova Centurion poses with the gold medal in the Womens Open 400m Freestyle Final during day two of the British Gas Swimming Championships at The London Aquatics Centre on March 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day Sixteen - 14th FINA World Championships

    SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 31: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain, gold and silver medalist in the Women's 800m Freestyle and 400m Freestyle poses during Day Sixteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 31, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day Sixteen - 14th FINA World Championships

    SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 31: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain, gold medalist in the Women's 800m Freestyle holds her medal during Day Sixteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 31, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day Fifteen - 14th FINA World Championships

    SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 30: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal in the Women's 800m Freestyle Final during Day Fifteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 30, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day Fifteen - 14th FINA World Championships

    SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 30: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal with Keri-Anne Payne (R) after the Women's 800m Freestyle Final during Day Fifteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 30, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

  • Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlingto

    Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlington celebrates on the podium during the award ceremony for the final of the women's 800-metre freestyle swimming event in the FINA World Championships at the indoor stadium of the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on July 30, 2011. AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day Fifteen - 14th FINA World Championships

    SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 30: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain competes on the way to winning the gold medal in the Women's 800m Freestyle Final during Day Fifteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 30, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day Fifteen - 14th FINA World Championships

    SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 30: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal in the Women's 800m Freestyle Final during Day Fifteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 30, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day Fifteen - 14th FINA World Championships

    SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 30: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal in the Women's 800m Freestyle Final during Day Fifteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 30, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlingto

    Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlington gestures on the podium during the award ceremony for the final of the women's 800-metre freestyle swimming event in the FINA World Championships at the indoor stadium of the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on July 30, 2011. AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • British Swimming Championships - Day Seven

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain poses with her Gold medal after winning the Women's 800m Freestyle Final during day seven of the British Swimming Championships at the Manchester Aquatics Center on March 11, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • 19th Commonwealth Games - Day 5: Swimming

    DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 08: (L-R) Medalists Kylie Palmer of Australia (Silver), Rebecca Adlington of England (Gold) and Jazmin Carlin of Wales (Bronze) pose during the medal ceremony for the Women's 400m Freestyle Final at Dr. S.P. Mukherjee Aquatics Complex during day five of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games on October 8, 2010 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

  • 19th Commonwealth Games - Day 5: Swimming

    DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 08: Rebecca Adlington of England poses with the gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 400m Freestyle Final at Dr. S.P. Mukherjee Aquatics Complex during day five of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games on October 8, 2010 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

  • 19th Commonwealth Games - Day 4: Swimming

    DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 07: (L-R) Medalists Wendy Trott of South Africa (Silver), Rebecca Adlington of England (Gold) and Melissa Gorman of Australia (Bronze) pose during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle Final at the Dr. S.P. Mukherjee Aquatics Complex during day four of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games on October 7, 2010 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • 19th Commonwealth Games - Day 4: Swimming

    DELHI, INDIA - OCTOBER 07: (L-R) Medalists Melissa Gorman of Australia (Bronze), Rebecca Adlington of England (Gold) and Wendy Trott of South Africa (Silver) pose during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle Final at the Dr. S.P. Mukherjee Aquatics Complex during day four of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games on October 7, 2010 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

  • Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Ad

    Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlington poses after the women's 400m freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest on August 15, 2010. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Ad

    Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlington (C), Norway's silver medalist Friis Lotte (L) and France's bronze medalist Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne pose on the podium after the women's 400m freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest on August 15, 2010. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Ad

    Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlington (C), Norway's silver medalist Friis Lotte (L) and France's bronze medalist Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne poses after the women's 400m freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest on August 15, 2010. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Ad

    Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlington (R) celebrate with Denmark's bronze medalist Lotte Friis after the women's 400m freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest on August 15, 2010. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Ad

    Great Britain's gold medalist Rebecca Adlington (R) celebrate with Denmark's bronze medalist Lotte Friis after the women's 400m freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest on August 15, 2010. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day One - 13th FINA World Championships

    ROME - JULY 26: Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain receives the bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 400m Freestyle Final during the 13th FINA World Championships at the Stadio del Nuoto on July 26, 2009 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day One - 13th FINA World Championships

    ROME - JULY 26: Joanne Jackson (L) celebrates the silver medal with Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain, who won the bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 400m Freestyle Final during the 13th FINA World Championships at the Stadio del Nuoto on July 26, 2009 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Swimming Day One - 13th FINA World Championships

    ROME - JULY 26: Joanne Jackson (L) celebrates the silver medal with Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain, who won the bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 400m Freestyle Final during the 13th FINA World Championships at the Stadio del Nuoto on July 26, 2009 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Olympic And Paralympic Heroes Parade

    LONDON - OCTOBER 16: Double Gold medalists Rebecca Adlington and Eleanor Simmonds (R) display their medals during Britain's Olympic medal winners parade on October 16, 2008 in London. (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)

  • Olympic And Paralympic Heroes Parade

    LONDON - OCTOBER 16: Rebecca Adlington waves to the crowd during Britain's Olympic medal winners parade on October 16, 2008 in London. Beijing Olympic and Paralympic winners travelled on a fleet of floats on a route from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square. (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)

  • Olympic And Paralympic Heroes Parade

    LONDON - OCTOBER 16: Mark Foster dances with Rebecca Adlington during Britain's Olympic medal winners parade on October 16, 2008 in London. Beijing Olympic and Paralympic winners travelled on a fleet of floats on a route from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square. (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)

  • Olympic And Paralympic Heroes Parade

    LONDON - OCTOBER 16: Double Gold medalists Rebecca Adlington (front left) and Eleanor Simmonds (front right) display their medals on the float alongside fellow Team GB Olympic and Paralympic swimmers during Britain's Olympic medal winners parade on October 16, 2008 in London. Beijing Olympic and Paralympic winners travelled on a fleet of floats on a route from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square. (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)

  • Olympic and Paralympic Heroes Parade

    LONDON - OCTOBER 16: British Double Olympic Gold Medalist Rebecca Adlington poses with Olympic Apprentice hopefuls from the London Athletics Acadamy at the The Grand at Trafalgar Square on October 16, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

  • Rebecca Adlington Arrives Home From Beijing Olympics

    MANSFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 26: Double Olympic swimming gold medal winner Rebecca Adlington (seated top right of bus) tours her hometown of Mansfield on an open top bus as she gets a heroines welcome on August 26, 2008 in Mansfield, England. Adlington who won two Olympic golds in the 400m and 800m freestyle in Beijing was also presented with a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes by mayor Tony Eggington (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • Rebecca Adlington Arrives Home From Beijing Olympics

    MANSFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 26: Double Olympic swimming gold medal winner Rebecca Adlington (seated top right of bus) tours her hometown of Mansfield on an open top bus as she gets a heroines welcome on August 26, 2008, Mansfield, England. Adlington who won two Olympic golds in the 400m and 800m freestyle in Beijing was also presented with a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes by mayor Tony Eggington (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • Rebecca Adlington Arrives Home From Beijing Olympics

    MANSFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 26: Double Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington smiles as she is given gold Jimmy Choo shoes by Mayor Tony Eggington in her hometown of Mansfield on August 26, 2008 in Mansfield, England. Adlington, who won two Olympic golds in the 400 m and 800 m freestyle in Beijing was given a heroine's welcome by thousands of locals as she arrived in an open top bus. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 8 - Swimming

    BEIJING - AUGUST 16: Gold medalist Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain poses during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle Final held at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China. Adlington won in a new world record time of 8:16:22. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 8 - Swimming

    BEIJING - AUGUST 16: Gold medalist Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain stands on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle Final held at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China. Adlington won in a new world record time of 8:16:22. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Olympics Day 8 - Swimming

    BEIJING - AUGUST 16: Gold medalist Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain poses during the medal ceremony for the Women's 800m Freestyle Final held at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China. Adlington won in a new world record time of 8:16:22. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

  • GOld medalist Rebecca Adlington (C) of G

    GOld medalist Rebecca Adlington (C) of Great Britain, silver medalist Alessia Filippi (L) of Italy and bronze medalist Lotte Friis of Denmark stands on the podium for the women's 800m freestyle final medal ceremony at the National Aquatics Center during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing on August 16, 2008. Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain set a new world record in the women's 800 metres freestyle with a time of eight minutes 14.10 seconds in the final at the Beijing Olympics. Alessia Filippi of Italy was second and Lotte Friis of Denmark was third. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)