Katie Meili, Olympic breaststroke medalist, retires from swimming

Katie Meili
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Katie Meili, the 2016 Olympic 100m breaststroke bronze medalist, has retired from swimming, a year before the Tokyo Games.

“It is with a heart full of joy and gratitude that I announce my retirement from competitive swimming,” was posted on Meili’s social media. “My swimming career has been a dream come true and I am so grateful for the lessons it has taught me, the opportunities it has provided me, and most importantly, the incredible people it has brought into my life.

“This chapter is closing, but I’m very much looking forward to the challenges and adventures the next one will bring.”

Meili, 28, had already taken her name off the team for this month’s world championships as she focuses on law school at Georgetown this year and next. She’s spending the summer as an associate at Jones Day law firm in Washington, D.C.

In April, Meili said whether she would go for a second Olympics in 2020 was “the million-dollar question,” according to the Washington Post.

“If I choose not to do it, it’ll be for all the right reasons: It’s just time,” Meili said then, according to the newspaper. “I’ve always said I’ll keep swimming as long as I’m enjoying it and as long as I’m able. A lot of factors go into both of those prongs. But if I decide I’m not going to swim next year and I’m not going to try to make Tokyo, then I will be happy and at peace with that decision.”

Meili’s success in 2016 was the product of perseverance. She swam at Columbia (not among the NCAA powers) and planned to retire after graduating in 2013. She was offered a legal assistant job in New York and planned to take it before visiting coach David Marsh in Charlotte and accepting a place in Marsh’s training group.

Meili, who faked a headache at her first swim practice as a kid and hid in the bathroom because she thought it was too hard, lowered her 100m breast personal best by 1.8 seconds in 2015 and made the Rio Olympic team by placing second to Lilly King at trials.

In Rio, Meili took bronze behind King and Russian Yuliya Efimova and added a gold as a prelim swimmer on the medley relay. She earned a medal of every color at her lone world championships appearance in 2017, including silver in the 100m breast, again behind King. She retires as the sixth-fastest woman in history in the event.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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