Olympic swimmer Ingram retires

Melissa Ingram. Photo / NZ Herald
Melissa Ingram. Photo / NZ Herald

Two-time Olympian Melissa Ingram has decided to retire from elite swimming after 10 years at the top level of the sport.

The Commonwealth Games and World Championship medallist made the announcement on the eve of the New Zealand Swimming Championships, starting on Sunday in Auckland

Ingram, whose decision to bid farewell to the sport was matched by fellow London Olympian Carl O'Donnell, said it was the right time to move on.

"It's not a decision that I have made lightly,'' Ingram said. "My whole life has been dedicated to swimming, but I know that I have left no stone unturned and I leave the sport with no regrets.

"I always gave 100 per cent. It's been an incredible journey, full of highs and lows, and it's shaped me into the person I am today.''

Ingram, 27, burst onto the international swimming scene in 2002 when she qualified for her first Commonwealth Games final in the 200m backstroke at the tender age of 17. She then won the bronze medal in the 200m backstroke at the world short course championships in the United States in 2004.

Ingram went on to anchor the women's 4x200m freestyle relay team at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, where New Zealand clinched the bronze medal from Canada by two hundredths of a second, before she broke the Commonwealth Games record in the 200m backstroke Delhi in 2010.

She finished 11th in the 200m backstroke in a New Zealand-record time at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was a regular on the world cup circuit, amassing 44 podium finishes throughout her career.

"I've been so lucky throughout my career to have been supported by so many amazing people,'' she said. "My family have stuck by me through thick and thin, my parents always ready to reach back into their wallets to pay for another suit or overseas trip in my younger years.

"My friends and team-mates always had my back and my coaches consistently went the extra mile to help me.''

The double Olympian managed to balance her competitive swimming career with her studies and graduated from the University of Auckland last year with a Bachelor of Arts.

Swimming New Zealand praised the accomplishments of both Ingram and O'Donnell and said the pair can be proud of what they achieved both in and out of the pool.

"Melissa has been on the podium at a world championship and only a few months ago had a number of victories on the Fina world cup circuit and both have competed at Olympic level.

"Swimming is a true world sport and to succeed in it from New Zealand takes tremendous commitment and dedication. Both Melissa and Carl led the way in this respect and both will no doubt be able to use these attributes to make a successful contribution to this country in whatever paths they follow in the future.''

- APNZ

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