Stephanie Millward, the winner of Paralympic, world and European gold medals across a decorated 13-year career, is hanging up her goggles and retiring from competitive swimming.
Millward has been a staple of senior British Para-Swimming squads since her Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008. That Games appearance saw her compete in three finals, nearly 10 years on from the Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis that came when she was on the verge of making the British international able-bodied team.
If Stephanie's performances in 2008 were a sign of her potential on the world para-swimming stage, 2009 was the year she truly announced herself, as she won a stunning five gold medals - as well as one silver - at the World Para Swimming European Open Championships in Reykjavik. The variety of the European titles showed Stephanie's versatility, as she claimed gold in the S9 100m Butterfly, S9 100m Backstroke and S9 400m Freestyle, as well as in two relay events.
Six medals at the 2010 World Para Swimming Championships and another five - including three more golds - at the 2011 Europeans in Berlin paved the way for Millward's second Paralympic outing, at a home Games in London 2012. There, the South West-based athlete won silvers in the S9 400m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, SM9 200m Individual Medley and Women's 34pt 4x100m Medley Relay, as well as a pair of bronzes.
After securing a quartet of world titles in Montreal in 2013, Stephanie built her way towards that sought-after maiden Paralympic title at Rio 2016, when the Team Bath competitor claimed S8 100m Backstroke gold, as well as helping the Women's 34pt 4x100m Freestyle Relay quartet to victory.
Another two relay golds followed at a home World Championships in London in 2019, before the curtain came down on a glittering para-swimming career in Tokyo earlier this year, when Millward competed at her fourth Paralympic Games, like teammate Ellie Simmonds.
Away from competition, Stephanie's positivity, drive and supportive nature proved invaluable to British teams - both athletes and staff - for more than a decade, with so many people involved in British Para-Swimming grateful for her impact.
Stephanie, too, has thanks to give on announcing her retirement. She said: "I have spent the last 13 years travelling the world representing GB and competing in national, European, World, Commonwealth and Paralympic competitions, securing more than 700 swimming medals, of which 10 are Paralympic ones, including my coveted two golds from Rio 2016.
"I have been awarded an MBE and been given the freedom of my local town, Corsham. I am a patron and ambassador to nine charities, I have met Her Majesty The Queen on five occasions, I've met Prime Ministers, MPs and dignitaries and been given the opportunity to speak at school assemblies, sports clubs and present to large companies. It's all quite difficult to process, but I am honoured, humbled and proud in equal measure.
"Now is the time to celebrate and thank all those that helped me to come to terms with my incurable MS. To Adrian, now my husband, who encouraged me back into a pool in 2008 and who has been my rock ever since. To the coaches and support staff who have enabled me to reach the pinnacle of Paralympic sport. To the National Lottery, UK Sport, ParalympicsGB and British Swimming, and others who provide the opportunity for those of us with a disability to compete.
"To my family, friends, supporters and my special employers for believing in me and not only giving me the opportunity to swim in Tokyo, but to prepare for me this day, my retirement day. Finally, and so importantly, thank you to the wonderful British people who have been so unbelievably supportive of me during my entire career."
Speaking on Stephanie's retirement, British Para-Swimming Head Coach Rob Aubry said: "Stephanie has been a major part of British Para-Swimming teams for well over a decade. Ever since I began working with her in the South West of England, Stephanie has been a ray of sunshine and a big supporter of the team. More importantly, she was an extremely hard worker.
"She should be so incredibly proud of her achievements and the hard work and dedication that she has had to show in supporting her swimming career. She will be missed, not only as an athlete in her own right but also for her kind words and constant support for all those around her."
To read about recent retirements for Stephanie's British Para-Swimming teammates Ellie Simmonds and Ellie Robinson, visit the para-swimming news section HERE.