World Record Holder Liam Tancock Announces Retirement

Former World Record holder Liam Tancock announced his retirement from competitive swimming on Friday at the British Swimming Awards.

“My plan was to always to retire from swimming at the end of 2016. It’s been an incredible journey and a part of my life that I will remember forever,” Tancock explained. “Over the past 18 months I’ve been working on a new business venture and along with a strong team I’m looking forward to giving it my full attention.

Tancock is a three-time World Champion, winning the 50 meter backstroke twice in long course (2009 and 2011) and the 100 meter backstroke once in short course (2008).

He broke the 50 meter backstroke long course World Record for the first time in April of 2008 at the British Championships. After American Randall Bal took it away 8 months later, Tancock broke it twice at the 2009 World Championships and has held the mark for the 7 years since. This record has only been broken 6 times since it was first recognized in the early 90s, and three of those occasions have been Tancock.

Tancock finished 2nd at the 2016 British Championships in the 100 backstroke, but his 54.20 wasn’t enough to warrant in selection to the team for Rio.

“I have loved the thrill of racing at the highest level, and that’s what really gave me a buzz. Standing on the podium and hearing the national anthem was always a highlight.

“I vividly remember winning my first World medal in Montreal 2005. Then two years after picking up a couple of medals in Melbourne 2007. But the real highlight was breaking the world record on the way to becoming World Champion in Rome 2009, and then retaining that title two years later in Shanghai 2011.

“I really believe in giving back to the sport that has given me so much and I have been and will continue visiting swimming clubs to inspire the next generation of swimmers. I want all of those young swimmers to enjoy the sport as much as I have.”

Tancock competed at both the Beijing and London Olympic Games and was a member of the 4x100m Medley relay team that finished fourth at the home Games.

He underlined his longevity with bronze medals over 50m and 100m Backstroke at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – his eighth and ninth Commonwealth medals for Team England.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have had some great coaches and mentors throughout my career,” said Tancock. “Starting my early years with Jon Randall at Exeter City SC, then 10 years with Ben Titley in Loughborough and finishing with my former team mate and World champion, James Gibson.

“Individually they have taught me a lot, not just about swimming, but also things that I will take with me in to the future.

“There are so many people that have shaped my journey and influenced my career. None less than my family and friends who truly have been incredible. They have spent so much of their time nurturing and supporting me and have enabled me to achieve my dreams.”

Reflecting on his career, National Performance Director for British Swimming Chris Spice said: “Liam has been an outstanding competitor and ambassador for our sport over a number of years.

“His dedication and commitment has meant he has had a long and productive career in international swimming.  From all of us at British Swimming we wish him well in his future endeavours.”

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

He is one of the greatest ever in my book for his philosophy. He said “I’d rather do a best time than win a gold if I had to choose.” The interviewers (Sharron Davies and Mark Foster) were horrified that someone could not list glory-hunting as the top aim. I didn’t reach his heights but I always wanted a PB because self-improvement gave me more pleasure than necessarily being better than who happened to be in a particular race on a given day. Good on you, Mr. Tancock and all the very best in your future endeavours!

Tom from Chicago
6 years ago

Fastest turnover ever. Too bad for him there isn’t a 75m backstroke in the Olympics. Great career. Best of luck.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »