Jan 30, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT
Rebecca Soni hasn’t competed since the 2012 Olympics, and she won’t do so again, retiring from the sport.
Soni, 26, won six Olympic medals over two Games in 2008 and 2012. She won the 200m breaststroke in both Olympics, split gold and silver in the 4x100m medley relay and took two silvers in the 100m breast.
She seemed to cherish the 2012 Olympic 200m gold the most. She broke the world record in the final and became the first woman to break 2 minutes, 20 seconds in the event.
“Achieving my dream of going below 2 minutes and 20 seconds in the 200m breaststroke really put the storybook ending on my career,” Soni said, according to SwimSwam. “I know I’ve conquered my goals in the pool, and now it’s time to conquer something else.”
Soni’s record was broken by Dane Rikke Moller Pedersen at the 2013 World Championships.
If Soni never swims competitively again, it will mark an outlier among major U.S. Olympic swimmers. Soni’s last Olympic swim came at age 25.
Janet Evans attempted to make the 2012 Olympic Team at age 40. Dara Torres was 41 in 2008. Jenny Thompson was 31 in 2004. Natalie Coughlin, 31, and Amanda Beard, 32, are still swimming.
“I considered coming back several time, and it has been fun watching the girls step up and swim so amazingly,” Soni said, according to Swimming World. “It’s been really fun to watch them, but I never felt that calling to get back in there. I had already done my piece, and now is a great time to take the next forward, and maybe approach things from the other side. That’s what motivated me to get the retirement out there.”
In retirement, Soni has launched a company called “The Atlas Ventures” with retired world champion Ariana Kukors to assist current athletes.
“Before I move away from swimming too much, I want to take the time to give back,” Soni told SwimSwam. “The swimming community has become my family, and I want to do my best to inspire the next generation and to share some of the things I’ve learned.”
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