Olympic finalist Jemma Lowe has become the second high-profile British swimmer to announce her retirement in as many days, calling it quits Wednesday. 7-time Paralympic champion Sascha Kindred announced his retirement on Tuesday.
The 26-year old Lowe swam at her first major international meet at the 2006 Commonwealth Games while representing Wales by her father’s birthright – she herself was born in England. In total, she’s swum at 2 Olympic Games, 4 World Championships, 3 Commonwealth Games, and numerous European Championships. She retires after she finished 3rd in the 100 fly (58.89) and 4th in the 200 fly (2:09.73) at the 2016 British Olympic Trials and missed the team in both events.
“After giving so much to the sport, it’s been a tough decision to make but I feel the time is right to move on to the next stage of my life,” said Lowe, who has been based at the National Centre, Bath.
“I remember qualifying for the Beijing Games on the day of my 18 birthday, I dived into that race and gave it literally everything. My Olympic debut in 2008 was daunting and I only just made the semi-finals but after I settled I made it through to the final, found myself in my ‘zone’ and finished sixth. My family was there supporting me – it was one of my proudest moments.”
Lowe won 5 Short Course World Championship medals in her career – 4 of which came while swimming butterfly individually, and the other came as part of a British 400 medley relay in 2008. Her highest finish was a 200 fly silver in 2010. She’s also a double European Champion in long course (both in medley relays), and has 5 individual European Short course medals.
Her lone Commonwealth Games podium came in 2010 when she won bronze in the 100 fly in Delhi.
Lowe has held the British Records in the 100 and 200 fly in both short course and long course in her career, and retires as the country’s all-time best in the 200 fly in short course meters (2:03.19). At one point, she also held the mixed 400 medley relay World Record as part of Britain’s squad at the 2014 Short Course World Championships.
Her all-time rankings as of retirement:
- 100 SCM Fly – 22nd – 56.32 (2013)
- 200 SCM Fly – 10th – 2:03.19 (2012)
- 200 LCM Fly – 12th – 2:05.36 (2011)
Lowe says she plans to stay in Bath with her partner Calum Jarvis, who is also a World Champion swimmer, and work on a business that she started last year called SwimPath – an online swimwear retailer that also provides coaching and swim camps.
“Jemma has had a long career and has reaped hard-earned success along the way. For someone to have been at the top for 10 years is impressive and is testament to her attitude,” said British Swimming head coach Bill Furniss. “She is one of only a few swimmers to win medals at Commonwealth, European and World (25m) level and rounded off her international haul with a world record relay swim. Jemma has had a distinguished career. She has been a pleasure to have on the team and gave everything her best. She is a great example to others as someone who is dedicated and applied.”
An outpouring of love from British Swimming’s elite came via Twitter after the announcement. A sample of those Tweets is below:
@JemmaLowe1 congratulations Jem! Been a pleasure to be on so many teams with you. Good luck for the next chapter! Welcome to the club xx
— Becky Adlington (@BeckAdlington) February 8, 2017
Congrats to my sister from another mister @JemmaLowe1 – the end of an era in swimming but just the beginning of an exciting new chapter x
— Elizabeth Simmonds (@LizzieSimmonds1) February 8, 2017
— Georgia Davies (@Ge0rgiaDavies90) February 8, 2017
Huge congrats @JemmaLowe1 on an amazing career! So happy to have competed on teams alongside you. All the best on your next chapter??♀️
— Lauren Quigley (@LaurenAQuigley) February 8, 2017
— Swim Wales (@SwimWales) February 8, 2017