|Photo: British Swimming|
Andrew Willis says the buzz of competing at the London 2012 Olympics will be a memory that stays with him forever after announcing his retirement from swimming.
Willis has decided against trying to qualify for a third Olympic Games at Tokyo in 2020, revealing that he felt 'the time was right' to retire from competition now.
The 27-year-old is a double Olympian, representing Team GB at Rio 2016 as well as in London four years earlier.
He's also a veteran of three Commonwealth Games, claiming a bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke at Glasgow in 2014.
But it was the thrill of walking out in front of his home crowd six years ago that will forever live in the memory.
"For me, the moment that will stay with me forever will be when I came out at London," said Willis. "The atmosphere and noise was just exhilarating.
"Rio was probably my highlight in terms of being the best prepared and giving my best performance, but London was definitely special."
Willis was third fastest qualifier in his London 2012 200m breaststroke heats behind Daniel Gyurta and fellow Brit Michael Jamieson.
He went on to finish second in his semi-final behind Hungarian Gyurta, and finished eighth in the final that saw Gyurta win gold and Jamieson take silver.
Four years later in Brazil, Willis missed out on a bronze medal byu just 0.07 seconds. Having won his semi-final, he swam a 2:07.70 in the final but was narrowly edged out for fourth.
"It really seemed like the right time for me to retire," said Willis of today's decision. "I thought about it and spoke to my coaches, lifestyle advisors and family and thought whether I had another two years in me to get to Tokyo.
"Ideally I would have liked to finish after the Europeans, but now this has given me time to help out in the chemical engineering department at Bath, go on holiday and think about my next step.
"I'm really going to miss everyone at Bath, but the fact I’m here still helping out has given me some structure until I decide what to do next."
Willis has been based at the Bath National Centre for the past eight years, during the majority of his time in the senior ranks.
He burst on to the scene at the European Championships in 2008, when he reached the final of the 200m breaststroke.
His bronze at Glasgow six years later was his first senior international medal, before he went on to claim Short Course European bronze in 2015 and a Short Course Worlds silver in 2016.
British Swimming's National Performance Director, Chris Spice, paid tribute to Willis for his years of dedication to the sport.
Spice said: "Andrew has been a huge part of the squad during my tenure, and will be missed by the staff and athletes alike.
"He has battled on the world's biggest stage and always given his full focus to every task we have given him.
Whilst we are sad for him to be leaving us, we wish him all the best for his next step. And we know if he puts the level of focus and determination into that as he did in the pool he will surely make a success of it."