New beginning: Kiera Aitken said: “Swimming is a big part of my identity, so it will be hard for me to leave it, but I am ready for a change and I hope I can find something else to take up that space.” *File photo by Ras Mykkal
New beginning: Kiera Aitken said: “Swimming is a big part of my identity, so it will be hard for me to leave it, but I am ready for a change and I hope I can find something else to take up that space.” *File photo by Ras Mykkal

FRIDAY, JUNE 1: The clock is winding down on Kiera Aitken’s brilliant swimming career.

The two-time Olympian has just 16 days left to qualify for this year’s London Games, but in reality her last meet will be in nine days time in Monte Carlo.

The former two-time Female Athlete of the Year told the Bermuda Sun she is retiring from swimming at a competitive level whether she makes the Olympics or not.

Aitken said: I don’t plan to continue swimming at this level after this season.”

She said retiring is bittersweet for her as “swimming is a big part of my identity, so it will be hard for me to leave it, but I am ready for a change and I hope I can find something else to take up that space.”

The 28 year old backstroke specialist said she isn’t really sure what the future holds for her, but on a temporary basis she is looking at staying in Spain.

Nerves

But her focus is set on getting to the London Olympics, something she believe she can accomplish.

“If I can control my nerves, then I know it is something that I can do. I am very confident that I have the ability to do it. I swam very close to the time last year.

“It’s a matter of going into the race with no fear.

She has three meets over the course of the next nine days.

She is doing the Mare Nostrum tour this weekend in Barcelona. On Wednesday and Thursday next week she will be in Canet-en-Roussillon, France and finishes up her qualifying efforts the following weekend in Monte Carlo.

While she would love to be a part of just a handful of Bermudians to have competed in three Olympic Games, but says that will not define her career if she doesn’t make it.

“Swimming has been the biggest thing in my life for a long time now so it would be nice to have that title to show for it.

“I was really proud of myself to make it to one Olympics, so I can’t not be happy with my career if I don’t make it to a third Olympics.

“It will be an incredible experience and I have worked really hard to be there but it will only be an added bonus at the end of a great career.”