Georgia Davies: Olympic swimmer ends 11-year career

By Tom BrownBBC Sport Wales
Retiring Olympic swimmer Georgia Davies recalls some of her fondest memories

Two-time Olympian and former Commonwealth and European champion swimmer Georgia Davies has announced her retirement.

The 31-year-old Welshwoman won 20 international medals over an 11-year career that also included the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

She retires from competition days after winning the International Swimming League title with Energy Standard.

"It just feels right," backstroke specialist Davies told BBC Sport Wales.

"Maybe I didn't finish completely on a high in terms of going to the Olympics or swimming a personal best time and then retiring immediately afterwards. But I didn't want to just keep going for the sake of it.

"Finishing at the ISL with my Energy Standard team and winning that title, it was probably the perfect way to finish for me."

'I still get goosebumps about London 2012'

Davies' first major competition came at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi when the then teenager took bronze for Team Wales in the women's 50m backstroke.

Four years on, in Glasgow, she took gold in the event - but not before she had also competed at the London 2012 Olympics.

These two events hold some of the fondest memories for Davies over her distinguished career.

"You don't hear much cheering when your head's underwater," she said, "but I heard it there [at London 2012].

"They were just so loud and I sometimes get goosebumps even thinking about that.

"But then winning the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and hearing the Welsh anthem as a proud Welshwoman, that's hard to top.

"I'd say I'm an emotional person but I don't normally cry happy tears. But that certainly was a moment I cried happy tears and seeing my parents also very emotional."

After representing Great Britain at a second Olympics in Rio in 2016, the following year Davies followed her coach, James Gibson, to Turkey to train with an international group of swimmers near Antalya.

Georgia Davies has held the British and European women's 50m backstroke records and still holds four Welsh national records
Georgia Davies has held the British and European women's 50m backstroke records and still holds four Welsh individual national records

After losing her British Swimming funding at that time, she believes the move gave her career a second wind. In 2018 she won medals at the World Short Course Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships.

The latter, in Glasgow, saw her win three gold medals and set a new European record in the women's 50m backstroke.

Bronze in the 4x100m mixed medley relay at the World Championships the following year meant an Olympic medal was the last thing missing from her collection and Davies was dreaming of ending her career on a high at Tokyo 2020.

But the Covid-19 outbreak meant she had to leave Turkey and return to the UK to train instead. When the trials for the postponed Games eventually came round in 2021, she narrowly missed out on a place in Team GB.

"The pandemic affected everybody in the whole world and I definitely don't want to blame that on my results," she said.

"Ok, I wasn't in Turkey and I wasn't with my training group or my coach but the group I trained with in Swansea is a world class group. We all did our best under the circumstances and it just didn't pan out for me this time."

Supporting the next generation

Davies puts her longevity down to a pure love of the sport. As a young swimmer she says she was 'the most competitive little kid', who would not have dreamed of the things she later went on to achieve in the sport.

She does not have a firm plan as to what is to come next in her life - other than a nice break from the water.

"To be honest I don't know [what's next] and I'm quite happy to not know at the moment," Davies continued.

"I just want to take it day by day, enjoy figuring out things I enjoy doing outside of swimming, finding out what other passions I might have and actually spending a bit of time at home in Britain with friends and family.

"I love swimming so much. I feel like when you've been in the sport for this many years, you definitely build up a lot of knowledge and if there's any way I can stay involved and support the next generation of swimmers.

"I'd love to be involved in the Commonwealth Games somehow with Team Wales but who knows?"

One of the most successful Welsh swimmers of her generation would certainly have plenty to pass on.

Top Stories