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BARCELONA, Spain, August 5. THE FINA world swimming championships is over, and another top athlete has announced the closing of a stellar swimming career.
Australian Brenton Rickard announced today that he is ending his competitive swimming career, a run that included three Olympic medals and scores of top-three finishes at various other international meets. He was the country’s go-to breaststroker for seven years, helping increase Australia’s medal count and keeping the country in the fight for medley relay supremacy.
“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who is helped me over the years,” Rickard posted on his Facebook page. “I retire from the sport of swimming very honoured to have been involved with such special people for so long. I will always be proud to be Australian swimmer number 563.”
In regards to being “Australian swimmer number 563,” it refers to the number every member of the Australian national team is given when they join the national team. Rickard’s first major international competition was the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where he won medals in all three breaststrokes and gold in the 400 medley relay. Success continued to the 2007 world championships in his home country, where a disqualification by the United States helped the Aussies win the medley relay, and Rickard picked up individual medals in the 200 breast (silver) and 100 breast (bronze).
The 2008 Olympics saw Rickard win silver in the 200 breast in a tight three-way battle with Mike Brown and Hugues Duboscq. He also helped Australia continue its presence in the medley relay with a silver medal.
The year 2009 was Rickard’s most memorable. He won his first individual world title in the 100 breaststroke at that meet, setting the world record with a 58.58. The record would last until the 2012 Olympics, where Rickard placed sixth in the final.
After the 2009 worlds, Rickard said goodbye to the 200 breaststroke, putting a full focus on winning medals in the 100 breaststroke, a decision also made by countryman Christian Sprenger. The two would continue to do battle domestically but never had difficulty placing in the top two in the 100 breast and qualifying for international competitions.
At the 2013 world championships, Rickard was 17th in the 100 breaststroke and 20th in the 50 breaststroke.