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British Olympians Sarah Vasey & Stephen Milne hang up their ski goggles

Two British swimmers have announced their retirements, as have both Stephen Milne and Sarah Vasey hung up their glasses.

Milne, 28, is an Olympic medalist and world champion, while Vasey, 26, has gold medals at European Championships and the Commonwealth Games to her credit.

Milne first represented Britain at international elite level at the 2012 European Junior Championships where he placed 8th in the individual 200m free and helped GBR to 4th in the 800m free relay.

Two years later, Milne represented his native Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, finishing fifth in the 1500m free before helping his home country take silver in the 4 x 200m free relay.

As part of the GBR Olympic squad in Rio, Milne competed in the 400m and 1500m free individual events, finishing 13th and 10th respectively. He was a member of the silver-medal-winning 800m free relay at the games.

Milne joined the University of Stirling in 2020 from longtime training base Perth. He missed out on being included in the Tokyo Olympic team and most recently finished 5th in the men’s 400m at the 2022 British Swimming Championships (3:54.05).

Reflecting on his difficult decision to retire, Milne said, “When I made the decision to compete in the Olympics, I had no idea what the road ahead would be. All I knew by the age of 11 was that I loved swimming and wanted to be as good at it as the ones I saw in front of me. That was the spark that drove me, got me out of bed in the morning and kept me going when the going got tough,” he said.

“I am very proud to have represented my nation, my country and the teams I have belonged to, but I have not done any of it alone. Thank you to everyone who has accompanied me on this journey over the past 19 years.

“To my friends and family, teammates and coaches, from club to performance, within the watersports community and across the community, I couldn’t have done it without you. The fact that you believed in me made me believe in myself.”

Vasey, who also competed in the International Swimming League as a member of the New York Breakers, made his debut for Great Britain at the 2017 World Championships. A year later she won gold at the Commonwealth Games in the 50m breaststroke.

But it was in 2021 that the Loughborough ace really made his breakthrough when she fielded her first team for the Olympics. Ultimately, in Tokyo, Vasey placed 11th in the women’s 100m breaststroke, while her women’s medley relay finished 11th overall.

Most recently at this year’s British Swimming Championships, Vasey placed 3rd in the women’s 50m breaststroke in a time of 31.46.

Vasey says of her retirement: “I’ve seen a lot of changes over the past year and it has changed the way I look at things. I was thinking about the next phase of my life and then I got a knee injury, it’s a barrier I just didn’t want to cross at this stage with the surgery and rehab to get fit again.

“I’ve achieved everything I put my mind to and more. I would have surgery and then recover for six weeks and it was all a bit too much after achieving everything I wanted to achieve.

“For me, the highlight of my career is taking part in a semi-final at the Olympic Games. It’s weird because when you’re in the bubble you don’t really realize what you’ve done – and then only afterwards when you step back and look at everything you’ve actually done and I’m really proud of it me.

“If you had told me when I was 10 that I would have done everything I had, I would never have believed you!”

She continued, “I really loved every minute of it. It’s the teams that make it, there are so many great people at British Swimming. I feel so lucky to have met so many of them and have so many good memories with them.

“I can honestly say I wouldn’t be anywhere without Mel. She has been such a massive support to me, in and out of the pool. She is one of the best trainers out there and I know I can now call her my girlfriend too.”

Speaking of Sarah’s retirement from swimming, British Swimming Performance Director Chris Spice says: “Sarah has played her part in UK swimming teams for the past five years, both individually and as a vital part of the medley relay – including helping our women’s 4x100m medley relay team to win the European title in a great competition last year, ours Swimmer.

“Her constant commitment to training and all her preparation has enabled her to represent Britain at all senior levels and we will miss her presence on our teams. We wish her the best in whatever comes next for her.”

Of Milne, Spice says, “Stephen should be very proud of everything he’s accomplished in his swimming career, both in and out of the pool.

“Over the years he has helped establish our men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay as the world’s leading relay team, becoming an Olympic silver medalist in Rio and following him a year later as part of the world champion team in Budapest. That he has also won medals at European and Commonwealth level really shows his quality as an athlete. Everyone at British Swimming wishes him all the best for the future.”

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