For weeks, White Rock Olympian Hilary Caldwell has been hinting at retirement, and on Wednesday the swimmer made it official – she’s leaving the pool for good.
The announcement – which was not altogether surprising, considering she spoke of the possibility last month prior to the Commonwealth Games – means the 27-year-old former Pacific Sea Wolves swim club member will, for the first time in years, have a schedule free of training or routine.
“I’m kind of excited,” Caldwell said in a Swimming Canada news release. “I haven’t had a free summer to do whatever I want in about 13 years. I have a lot of friends I owe visits to.”
Caldwell had toyed with the idea of retirement after last years’s FINA World Championships in Budapest, but chose to continue. Just after Christmas, she decided to move to Australia’s Gold Coast to train and Griffith University.
“It’s very unlikely I’ll swim until 2020 (Summer Olympics),” Caldwell last month. “I would say it’s unlikely I’ll swim past April.”
At Commonwealth Games, which were held in Australia, Caldwell finished fifth in her signature event, the 200-m backstroke.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Caldwell won bronze in the same race, and also has a bronze medal in the discipline from the 2013 world championships.
Caldwell said she’d made up her mind before the Commonwealth Games, which meant a mix of emotions upon getting out of the pool for the final time.
“I got out of the pool and the first person gave me a hug,” said Caldwell. “I got quite emotional, a lot more than I thought I would.
“I’m good with it but it’s weird. It has been my whole life, 20-plus years and it’s done. It will be a change, but I think a good one.”
Ryan Mallette, the head coach at Victoria’s High Performance Centre, said Caldwell was fueled by determination and perseverance.
“Hilary was not necessarily the most talented athlete that we ever had but she was definitely the most determined,” said Mallette. “If you set a goal in front of her she was able to pursue that with a vigor no other athlete I ever worked with had.”
Ryan Cochrane, a two-time Olympic medallist who trained for years in Victoria with Caldwell called her “a smart, incredibly quick-witted, passionate woman.”
A few days after the announcement was made official by Swimming Canada, Caldwell wrote an Instagram post thanking her many coaches, teammates, competitors and fans for their support through the years.
“To those of you I met along the way, I’m going to miss the hell out of you,” she continued.
Not sure that it’s possible to sum up a lifetime of swimming in a few sentences… Here’s to all of the places I’ve been, all of the pools I’ve swam in, and all of the crowds who cheered me on. Here’s to my coaches, my support team, my competitors, my teammates, my country, and my family. To those of you I met along the way: I’m going to miss the hell out of you. Keep in touch and keep a couch open for me; you had better believe I’ll be taking you up on it the next time I’m in your neighbourhood. I’m grateful for everything that swimming made possible for me. It’s time for something new ✌🏼
Visit us at peacearchnews.com