27-year-old double Olympian Andrew Willis has announced his retirement from swimming, with two Olympic and three Commonwealth Games under his belt.
The breaststroker is one of the most experienced swimmers in the British Swimming programme.
Willis, who has been based at the Bath National Centre for the last eight years, had one stand out moment from a glittering career in the pool.
“For me the moment that will stay with me forever will be when I came out at London,” he said.
“The atmosphere and noise was just exhilarating. Rio was probably my highlight in terms of being the best prepared and giving my best performance, but London was definitely special.”
Since breaking into the senior ranks of the British team with a spot in the 200m Breast final at the European Junior Championships in 2008, Willis has been a regular fixture in the squad, attending Delhi, Glasgow and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the London and Rio Olympic Games.
He landed his first senior international medal in the summer of 2014, winning 200m Breaststroke bronze for England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, before finishing fourth in the same event at the European Championships in Berlin the following month.
Speaking of the decision he added: “It really seemed like the right time for me to retire. I thought about it and spoke to my coaches, lifestyle advisors and family and thought whether I had another two years in me to get to Tokyo.
“Ideally I would have liked to finish after the Europeans, but now this has given me time to help out in the chemical engineering department at Bath, go on holiday and think about my next step.
“I’m really going to miss everyone at Bath, but the fact I’m here still helping out has given me some structure until I decide what to do next.”
In his lengthy career, he secured a place in the final at the World Championships in Shanghai in 2011 followed by his first British Championships title in 2012.
In addition to focussing his attention on his efforts in the pool Andrew also took responsibility as an athlete representative in the Gold Coast – ensuring the younger members of the team were prepared for the event and passing on his experience. On top of that, Willis also achieved a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering.
Chris Spice, National Performance Director for British Swimming, said: “Andrew has been a huge part of the squad during my tenure, and will be missed by the staff and athletes alike.
“He has battled on the world’s biggest stage and always given his full focus to every task we have given him.
“Whilst we are sad for him to be leaving us, we wish him all the best for his next step. And know if he puts the level of focus and determination into that as he did in the pool he will surely make a success of it.”