Last Updated: February 5, 2013 5:02pm
Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington has announced her retirement from competitive swimming.
The 23-year-old from Mansfield has called it a day, six months after collecting a brace of bronze medals at the London Olympics.
However, her biggest moments came four years earlier in Beijing when she won gold medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle events.
In winning the latter she also set a world record time of eight minutes, 14.1 seconds, knocking more than two seconds off Janet Evans's time which had stood for more than 20 years.
Adlington was also successful at the World Championships, winning the 800m freestyle gold in 2011 when the event was staged in another Chinese city Shanghai.
At a press conference 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."
As for her successes in the pool, she added: "Beijing changed my entire life, everyone wanted to learn about me. It was the best moment of my entire career and I am so glad my world record still stands."
Adlington paid tribute to Bill Furniss, her coach and mentor from the age of 12.
Furniss was recently unveiled as the new Great Britain coach and she said: "Bill is the biggest thing. He has helped me as an athlete as much as a person.
"The medals - they are not just mine - they are my family's and Bill's. I think he is going to do a brilliant job as GB head coach."
And she says she will remain in the sport to concentrate on grassroots coaching.
According to her website, she said: "I'm very proud of what I have achieved so far but my journey is not finished yet.
2008 - Olympic Games 400m gold
2008 - Olympic Games 800m gold
2009 - World Championship 400m bronze
2010 - European Championship 400m gold
2010 - Commonwealth Games 400m gold
2010 - Commonwealth Games 800m gold
2011 - World Championship 400m silver
2011 - World Championship 800m gold
2012 - Olympic Games 400m bronze
2012 - Olympic Games 800m bronze
"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."
Full of praise for the "national treasure", British Olympic Association chairman and London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe added: "Becky Adlington's unforgettable success in Beijing inspired a generation to get in the pool and swim.
"Her down-to-earth personality and remarkable career achievements have made her a national treasure," added the British athletics great, who won 1500m gold on the track at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.
"Becky's vision for the future of grass-roots swimming in this country will create a wonderful legacy from one of our greatest Olympians."
Adlington was also a European and Commonwealth champion and the 18-time Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps followed the tributes.
He said: "Our paths have crossed many times over the years. Her accomplishments speak for themselves, she has been a great representative for British Swimming and the sport overall.
"I congratulate her on a fantastic career and wish her all the best in the future."
A pictorial chronology of Britain's most successful swimmer in history
BOA chief executive Andy Hunt has paid tribute to Rebecca Adlington after her decision to retire from swimming.
Figures from the world of sport have been paying tribute to Rebecca Adlington after she retired.
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