Olympian James Magnussen Retires After Decade-Long International Career

Two-time world champion sprinter James Magnussen is officially retiring after an international career that spanned a decade and saw him rack up major medals in the double-digits, Swimming Australia announced in a press release Tuesday.

“I have taken the time to make the best decision for myself moving forward and to do that I wanted to make sure I was in the best space mentally and physically before announcing my retirement,” Magnussen said. “At 28 years of age I feel I could have swum at another Olympic Games, but with the lofty standards I have held myself to over the years and the high expectations I have, I believe now is the right time to step away from the sport.”

Magnussen won back-to-back world championships in the 100 free in 2011 and 2013, becoming the first Australian man to win a world title in that event.

In that time, he also took silver in the 100 at the 2012 London Olympics, just .01 behind gold medalist Nathan Adrian. Following multiple Commonwealth Games gold medals in Glasgow in 2014, he had shoulder surgery in 2015.

He bounced back with a bronze medal on Australia’s 4×100 freestyle relay in Rio in 2016.

“He should be very proud of what he has achieved – very few people in the world have reached these heights in competitive sport,” Swimming Australia president John Bertrand said.

Magnussen ended 2017 as the fourth-fastest Australian in the 100m free (48.68), while also ranked as the third-fastest Aussie 50m freestyler (21.98). With minimal racing in 2018, he closed the calendar year as the fifth-fastest 100m freestyler (48.79) in Australia and the third-fastest 50m freestyler in 22.05.

As of July 2018, Magnussen was “50-50” on retiring before the Tokyo Games.

“Through swimming I have made lifelong friends and created memories that I will treasure forever. The people that I have worked with on a daily basis have been my source of motivation and inspiration,” the six-foot-six Magnussen, also known as “The Missile,” added. “To my strength coaches, sport scientist, biomechanist, mind coach, dietician, manager, masseuse and physiotherapist, I have always been humbled by the time and effort you have invested in my career. You guys kept me smiling every day and hopefully I reciprocated that!”

“To my coaches Mitch and Lach Falvey, Brant Best and Michael Mullens, you have shaped not only the swimmer I am but the man I am. Each of you have been a mentor to me and helped me navigate through the highest highs and lowest lows. I am forever grateful to have had you in my life and I know I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I did without your input.”

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Bruh
2 years ago

Great career and fun guy to watch in the pool. Best of luck!

SWIMGUY12345
2 years ago

I know he wasn’t a favorite for his behavior before/at the 2012 Olympics and his failing to capture the gold, but he had one hell of a career.

I respect the hell out of him for being able to rebound to even get silver at that Olympics. He led off the relay to begin the meet in 48.03. Nearly a full second slower than he was at his trials – I think this would’ve mentally broken so many. Rallied all the way back to go 47.63 in the semis and 47.53 in the finals.

That takes some serious mental toughness. Respect.

Markster
Reply to  SWIMGUY12345
2 years ago

What behavior? Genuinely curious. Didnt seriously follow swimming until ’14

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Markster
2 years ago

From the moment Magnussen popped that 47.10, he was very cocky and led many to think he believed the gold medal should be given to him.
Australia’s mens 4×100 free relay team behaved poorly on the training camp because they took stillnox, a sedative banned by SAL because of it’s role in Grant Hackett’s mental health decline. (It’s not banned by WADA, I’m clearing this up because some people think it is) They then disturbed other members of the Australian team throughout the night. During the Olympics, they bullied other members of the team, particularly those who were new. The ringleaders were Magnussen, Sullivan and Targett.

Ole 99
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
2 years ago

Just a point of clarification…
Magnussen was “the missile”
Roberts was “the rocket”

Alpine Stars
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
2 years ago

Magnussen is blamed for creating a toxic team environment for Team Australia at the Olympics. His bullying will no longer be an excuse for Australia to choke. 2020 should be interesting.

Ragnar
Reply to  Markster
2 years ago

The aussies, mainly the 4×100 freestylers, worked hard and played harder during the games, honestly they should’ve smashed us in the relay, and mags was all set to rip under 47. mistakes were made, but his 47.10 at Aussie trials made my whole high school team reconsider life! He’ll be missed, James you inspired a whole bunch of kids to go on to do great things in and out of the pool!

Jack
Reply to  Markster
2 years ago

The Aussie 4×100 relay guys were sort of prematurely celebrating their “inevitable” win, and kept running through the halls at the hotel, keeping the rest of the Aussie team awake, banging on girls’ doors and stuff. Then they lost the relay. Then James lost the 100, and there was this whole thing about the Australian swimming federation needing to review their whole team’s culture ahead of the next major competitions.

Basically, it’s likely that a lot of the upsets the Aussie male sprinters suffered in 2012 were due to their behavior outside the pool getting in the way of the entire team’s performance at the Games.

But in fairness to James, he seemed to learn from it, and from… Read more »

13 % Chinese person
Reply to  Jack
2 years ago

. Magnussen at least got a medal & in the future is the only thing that will be noted . .

danggg
2 years ago

Legend!

Verram
2 years ago

Sad to see him retire just before Tokyo 2020.. he could have maybe helped the relay team out .. now we need to find a fast 3rd and 4th swimmer assuming chalmers and Cartwright remain in the right trajectory moving forward .. Magnussen of late was swimming pretty much what McEvoy and Roberts are managing to swim these days

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Verram
2 years ago

Chalmers should be fine moving forward. last year, he didn’t break 48 on a flat start but still managed to go 46.91 on a relay. Especially now with his 47.89 and 47.48. Cartwright is taking a gamble. he had a scare with his heart condition in the 200 free at comm games trials, (what Chalmers had in late 2016) but he is leaving it untreated until post tokyo in hopes of keeping his Olympic preparation on track. 50/50 on whether or not he improves his times. Roberts went sub 48 twice on a relay last year, so he just needs to continue what he’s doing now. Mcevoy was in the shape of his life in 2015/16, and he was consistently… Read more »

Verram
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
2 years ago

My thoughts pretty much .. more younger guys need to push like Brinkworth but he hasn’t broken 49secs yet so don’t want to put too much expectations on his shoulders but he is at the right age for a career breakthrough

Verram
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
2 years ago

I guess we still have to see if Australia even qualifies for Tokyo as a relay team in the men’s 4×100 free

Robbos
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
2 years ago

While I agree that Australia doesn’t have the depth to threaten for the men’s 4×100, not sure the national program is that broken, when Australia in the men’s 100 free has the 2 fastest swims in textile & the current Olympic champion, preformed by 3 different swimmers. The 4 X 200 men’s looks a lot stronger & potential medalist. the women’s 4×100 are past 2 Olympic champs & at present favourites for a 3rd. The women’s 4×200 would also be equal favourites with the US for Worlds & Olympics.
So not sure it’s broken.

Gymswim
Reply to  Robbos
2 years ago

Robbos obviously if we can’t win the 4x100m, we can’t do anything. We should just pack it in and go home, we’re all useless.

Ridiculous. One bad event doesn’t a broken program make

Robbos
Reply to  Gymswim
2 years ago

Yes, we are particularly strong in the freestyle in both men’s & women’s. We don’t match the US is swimming depth, but who does!!!!!

Samesame
Reply to  Robbos
2 years ago

We just need 360 million population

Robbos
Reply to  Gymswim
2 years ago

I think GYMSWIM was being sarcastic.

ole 99
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
2 years ago

I don’t know if you can say a country with 3 guys with PB’s sub 48 has virtually no chance of medaling on the 4 x 100 free relay. I’m not saying they are going to medal, but the certainly have a chance. A lot of things can happen before the OG in 2020.

Rafael
Reply to  ole 99
2 years ago

Question is.. when that PB was? 2 years ago? More? Trials is here.. then we will know if AUS will have the firepower or will watch USA BRA and RUS fight on the 4×100

Robbos
Reply to  ole 99
2 years ago

It’s firstly the lack of depth outside these 3, hoping 1 or 2 others can stand up & while Chalmers, who I expect to stamp his favouritism next week for Worlds & Olympics with a very fast time, & secondly, Carthwright, not swam for a 6 months & McEvoy, has shown nothing in the last couple of years that we Aussies are concerned about.

Aquajosh
2 years ago

Tied for prettiest eyes in swimming with Mireia Belmonte.

torchbearer
Reply to  Aquajosh
2 years ago

Met him at a big party once, and he stayed and chatted for ages…very nice guy. You are right about the eyes…

Verram
Reply to  torchbearer
2 years ago

What happened to his eyes ??

H1H2
2 years ago

I think Maggie was really hard done by, by the press after London. As a few people have already said, his 47.56 in London was a really, really good swim. It was just that Adrian absolutely swam out of his skin to get the gold. A silver medal at the Olympics after a 47.10 trials was far better than McEvoy’s 47.04 trials and then bomb Olympics.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  H1H2
2 years ago

Yes, and Magnussen is a back to back world champ in the 100 free, which is especially impressive considering he rebounded from his disappointment in london to gold in barcelona. Mcevoy’s only individual gold internationally was the 100 free at the 2014 pan pacs, so it’s no question that magnussen had the better career.

Verram
Reply to  H1H2
2 years ago

Well compared to what the tennis brats get up to (ie Kyrgios and Tomic) swimmers are angels in comparison ..

Pvdh
Reply to  H1H2
2 years ago

Maggie just got beat by another great sprinter swimming the race of his life. Put up a great time. Mcevoy straight up bombed.

Robbos
Reply to  Pvdh
2 years ago

Very hard to disagree here.

Snarky
2 years ago

Stud. Good Luck James in the future.

marklewis
2 years ago

James was so close to winning the Olympic gold in 2012. If you watch the race, he was leading with 10 meters to go, and then Adrian really hit the finish to out-touch him.

He said in the Sydney Herald that he got overconfident going into the London 2012 because he had not lost a race in two years. He was only 20 then, which in understandable.

His 47.10 is one of the fastest swims ever. That swim, his Olympic silver, and his 2 World Champs golds put him in the sprinting HOF.

TheRoboticRichardSimmons
Reply to  marklewis
2 years ago

I’m that race, Adrian shifted it to another gear with 10 yards to go by going no breath with a more straight arm recovery. The moment before that it looked like Magnuson was going to pull away down the stretch.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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