INTERNATIONAL swimmer Jess Lloyd will no longer be making a splash after deciding to retire at the age of 22.
Jess, from Diggle, can look back on a successful career in which she swam for Team GB at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and for England at the Commonwealth Games two years later in Glasgow where she won two medals.
After taking time out to care for mother Ann in her battle against cancer, Jess admits it has altered her perspective of life.
She explained: “I had lived in a bubble since the age of eight and it was like a fantasy world.
“Once I left it and went into the real world outside swimming, it was not such a big deal.
“I knew the mindset needed to be an elite athlete, and it was hard getting back into that and to try to get to the next Olympics.
Jess, a former pupil at Diggle Primary and Saddleworth School, made the decision to quit swimming during her summer break.
She continued: “Swimming has been my life since the age of eight and I am still emotional about making the decision because I love to train, it’s just that I don’t have the fire to race any more.
“When I went back to Saddleworth from the University of Bath, I had a look at all my medals in my room and had a cry.
“I achieved everything I set out to do and felt there was nothing else I wanted to do. I am content what I have achieved.
“The more I raced recently and didn’t improve, it tarnished the memories of London and Glasgow. Part of quitting was to keep those happy memories.
“It doesn’t get any better than competing in a home Olympics.
“It would have been amazing to get to another one, and I would have soaked it in even more, but it could never have beaten London.”
After returning to the pool, Jess even moved to the University of Bath last year to make a clean break and make a new start, but that failed to reignite the spark.
Looking back at her career, Jess admitted to being blown away by the scale of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
Jess helped Team GB finish finish in the 4x100m freestyle relay in London and win silver and bronze in Glasgow in the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays.
She said: “I was never interested in watching the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, and didn’t realise how big they were until I competed.
“It made me appreciate what I had achieved. I had won nearly every race from the age of eight, gone to the top and made me realise what I had achieved and how fortunate I had been to make it.”
Jess admitted on her return to the pool it was a case of starting again from scratch which was tough.
She said: “I was fighting a losing battle as I felt I had nothing to prove.
“I still went to the trials for Rio and British National Championships, but it felt different going back into the bubble.
“A lot of my friends had retired and there was a lot of new, younger talent coming through and it was hard to enjoy it and I felt uneasy.”
Jess added the second year back in the pool was equally tough as she had a spinal injury and also gastritis, a stomach problem that is still ongoing.
She says her whole life has been swimming and now she must embark upon a new chapter.
Jess plans to teach swimming but is also looking to renovating property with her father Garry who is a stonemason with a business in Waterhead.
“It is something that has always interested me and I did an art foundation degree at Bury College which might come in useful,” she said.
Jess also wants to save up for a house with boyfriend Sam Horrocks, a top swimmer who she has known since the age of 14.