British Para-Swimmer James Hollis has hung up his cap and goggles for the final time and announced his retirement from the sport after a career that has spanned more than a decade.
Hollis, who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic disorder that affects the bone and ligament strength, got into swimming due to it being a great way to burn off energy and also the safest sport for the condition.
By the age of eight he had started racing competitively, joining the British Para-Swimming pathway at 13. In 2011 he made his international debut at the European Championships in Berlin where he realised it that swimming was the sport for him.
“I loved every second of the meet in 2011; that’s when I knew that I’d found the perfect sport for me. I thrived on the environment and just loved being able to race” said Hollis.
A call up from ParalympicsGB in 2012 for the London Games proved to be a career highlight, as he recalls:
“I remember walking out onto deck at the London Aquatics Centre with 17,500 people all cheering for us, for Great Britain, it was such an incredible feeling. To be able to represent my country at the highest level of my sport in front of my family and friends was so special.
“Another memorable moment in my competitive career was coming back from a shoulder injury in 2014; the British Para-Swimming medical teamed helped me turn things around in just eight weeks and I managed to qualify for the Euros in Eindhoven.
“A challenging moment for me was when I missed out on qualification for Rio 2016 - it was a difficult time but I refocused and within the space of a year I was back to number one in the world in my event.
“At the end of 2017 I finished my Masters in Musculoskeletal Sports Science and Health and returned to full time training, but after a while it wasn’t how I hoped it would be and I came to the decision that it was time to step away from the sport in the role of an athlete.”
Despite being an individual sport, our swimmers couldn’t do it without the team behind the team and Hollis was quick to attribute the support he has received throughout his career.
“There are too many people to thank individually that have played a role in what I have been able to achieve in my career - I am however truly grateful to Loughborough Sport and for the five years that I spent with them. The people there crafted me into the person I am today and went way beyond the remit of their roles to help me.”
Commenting on the announcement, British Para-Swimming National Performance Director, Chris Furber said:
“I want to congratulate James on a successful career in the pool that has seen him compete at each and every level of the sport. He has been a highly professional athlete and great ambassador for all things para-swimming.
“On behalf of everyone at British Para-Swimming I would like to wish him well for the future and we look forward to continuing a professional working relationship with James as he continues his role on the Athlete Representation Group.”James is now exploring career options as a performance sport practitioner with the hope of featuring on an elite team again in the future but in a new guise.