If there were two holes to be found in the British National women’s team, as an overall complete program, it seems as though those two holes might be sprint freestylers and sprint breaststrokers.
The future of those holes have looked bright from time-to-time, but took a hit when 17-year old Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell told Britain’s The Daily Telegraph that she was giving up swimming to focus on her studies and try and get into Harvard.
Ajulu-Bushell, who is the first black swimmer ever on the British National Team, competed at the 2010 European Championships. Up until 2010, she competed under the flag of Kenya, where she lived for 10 years (though she was born in England).
At the 2010 Euro’s, she placed 28th in the 100 breaststroke and 10th in the 50. While those aren’t huge rankings, considering that she was only 16 at the time (and placed ahead of swimmers like Rikke Moeller Pederson of Denmark) that’s a pretty impressive results. In fact, she was the youngest swimmer by two years to make the semi-final of the 50.
But Ajulu-Bushell went into a bit of a slump in 2011, and claims that British Swimming stopped supporting her.
She told The Telegraph that “So many needed attention that it just went against British Swimming’s ethos of this being a long-term sport,” with regard to the attention she’s received from the national organization during her down-period.
Further comments by the young star seemed to indicate that this was a two-fold issue. Ajulu-Bushnell hit a plateau and didn’t feel like she was improving, but had her frustration compounded by the perception of a lack of support to help her times headed south again.
Her long course bests are 30.7 in the 50 and 1:08.5 in the 100 (as well as 26.4/57.0 in the sprint freestyles). If this is truly the end of her career, she will be left in the top 20 all-time in the sprint breaststrokes.
Don’t be surprised, however, if this is an instance where she takes a few years off to complete her degree, and then gets pulled back in at a still-young 22 or 23 years old.