Simmonds calls time on her swimming career at the top
Two-time European champion Lizzie Simmonds claims she now has to learn how to lead a normal life after announcing her retirement from elite swimming.
The 27-year-old represented England at three Commonwealth Games, winning silver in the 200m backstroke at Delhi 2010, while missing out on Olympic bronze by just over seven tenths of a second at London 2012.
At just 17-years-old she won gold at the 2008 European Championships in 200m backstroke, silver and bronze at the World Championships in Manchester, and represented Great Britain at the Beijing Olympics all in the same year.
More success came at the 2010 European Championships in Hungary where she won 200m backstroke gold and 100m backstroke silver, then again at the 2014 European Championships where she claimed silver in the 200m backstroke.
Over 15 years at the highest level of the sport, Simmonds won 13 British titles and broke British, European and Commonwealth records, but felt it was time to hang up the goggles and relax.
"I've lived and breathed elite sport," said Simmonds in a blog announcing her retirement.
"It's been one heck of a journey, but the time has come to move on.
"Travelling the world with my teammates, I've stood on podiums with the national anthem playing, won and lost races by a fingernail margin.
"I've experienced the highs of elite sport, swimming in multiple Olympic finals with the whole world watching.
"I've spent an unreasonable amount of time in a state of heavy chlorination, averaging over twenty hours a week in a swimming pool since the age of 13.
"In total, I've swum roughly the circumference of the Earth, but now it's time to learn how to be a real person."
Paying her gratitude to those who had helped her along the way, Simmonds admitted how the sport changed her and led her personal development in life.
She added: "I am hugely grateful to British sport for providing an environment where I could push myself beyond the limit, where I could challenge everything that I am, where I would laugh and cry into my goggles on a weekly basis.
"Continually nudging me out of my comfort zone, thank you for giving me a place to thrive, and for the chance to develop as a person.
"When I set out as a timid 12-year-old I was scared of everything—staying away from home was a major ordeal, facing competitors reduced me to a gibbering wreck, and challenging myself and the people around me didn't come easily.
"But, as the lap tally increased and the experiences racked up, the fear began to melt away.
"It's been incredibly exciting to be part of British sport during the last decade, to flow with the tide of success that the athletes and coaches of this nation have created.
"The determination to be far more than average—to be the best I can be—has remained with me, so I'm hugely thankful to have found a sport that triggered that initial spark of ambition.
"I've sacrificed a lot, but received so much more in return, and I'm left with an abundance of truly wonderful memories from the process."