Katie Hoff, a three-time 2008 Olympic medalist, announced her retirement from swimming due to blood clots in her lungs on Monday.
“I have given this a lot of thought and after 1.5 [years] of struggling with the effects of blood clots in my lungs, I have decided to officially retire from the sport of competitive swimming,” Hoff said, according to her social media. “While this has been an extremely frustrating decision to have to make, I have consulted with my doctor and concluded that retiring is the best choice for my long-term physical and mental health and happiness. Unfortunately, the length of time that the blood clots were undetected has resulted in a buildup of scar tissue that have decreased my lung capacity, which is significant enough to make swimming at the highest level an unrealistic option for me.”
Hoff, 26, won three medals each at the 2005 and 2007 Worlds and 2008 Olympics. She swept the individual medleys at the 2005 and 2007 Worlds.
She took a one-year sabbatical after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team (she was ill at trials), returned and posted promising times leading into the August 2014 U.S. Championships before starting to suffer from blood clots during that meet.
She then pulled out of the December 2014 World Short Course Championships and last competed in April, according to USA Swimming’s results database.
Hoff’s career has been marked by tremendous achievements, including making her first Olympic team at age 15 in 2004 and breaking her first world record at 18.
She is the youngest U.S. Olympian (Summer or Winter) since 1996, and she holds the oldest American record in an Olympic men’s or women’s swimming event (400m individual medley, 2008 Olympic trials).
It’s also included plenty of stressful times, from vomiting poolside at the 2004 Olympics to having to swim at the 2008 Olympics under the media label “female Phelps” after she won five individual events at the Olympic trials. She took home zero golds among her three medals in Beijing.
People will often tell Hoff, “You swam at the Olympics and won medals. That must be amazing.”
“Not that amazing,” Hoff said last year. “Every time I’ve been at a big meet like that [Olympics, World Championships, even U.S. Championships], I’ve almost dread about the events. I’ve been stressed out and worried.
“It’s something that I always struggle with, staying relaxed.”
Katie Ledecky broke one of Hoff’s records, the American record in the short-course 1,000-yard freestyle, on Sunday.
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