Olympic medalist David Plummer retired from swimming this week by penning a heartfelt farewell letter to the sport he’s been devoted to since he was 5 years old.

“I haven’t been in the water since Rio, so this has been true for a while, but now I am saying it out loud and I am admitting it to myself. I am retiring. I am done swimming,” Plummer, the Wayzata boys’ swim coach and former Gophers swimmer wrote in the letter published by SwimSwam.

“This was a hard decision to make. I have defined myself as a swimmer since I was five years old, but it comes down to this: I don’t want it any more. The majority of my life I have wanted to swim fast more than I wanted to breathe. I don’t want it that way anymore.

“I’ll never stop loving swimming and I know I will miss racing. Our sport is one of the most challenging in the world, but as they say, ‘it’s supposed to be hard, the hard is what makes it great.’ ”

Plummer won two medals at the Rio Games this past summer: bronze in the 100-meter backstroke and gold in the 4x100-meter medley relay. At age 30, he became the oldest first-time U.S. Olympic swimmer since 1904. Plummer was also the first Gophers swimmer to make the U.S. Olympic team in 52 years.

In the 100-meter backstroke, he clocked a 52.40 to finish in the top three and become the first Gophers men’s swimmer to win an Olympic medal for the U.S. American Ryan Murphy won the event with an Olympic-record time of 51.97. Xu Jiayu of China earned silver with 52.31.

Plummer raced the backstroke leg of the medley relay in a preliminary round on route to winning gold.

The Oklahoma native finally earned a spot on the U.S. swim team in his fourth Olympic Trials appearance. In 2012, he placed third in the 100-meter backstroke. The top two swimmers advance to the Olympics.  

“I have been told by many people since the Olympics that they were inspired by my perseverance,” Plummer wrote. “I always just thought I was a slow learner. Honestly, I just couldn’t find a way to step away when I still had more to accomplish, more to prove to myself. I am humbled to walk away as a member of the U.S. Olympic fraternity. I got to be a member of the U.S. Olympic Swim Team and I’m proud of the way we competed. Best damn team in the world.”

Plummer also thanked his friends, family, teammates and fans for the support he’s received throughout his career, with a special thanks for his wife and mom.

Plummer, who is also an assistant coach for the Minnetonka girls swim team, concluded the letter with a message to the next generation of swimmers. He wrote, “don’t do it for anyone else and you can imagine a happier life away from swimming don’t do it at all. But if you have to do it, I mean deep down can’t see yourself doing anything else, then give it your whole heart. Because while swimming will at some point break your heart, the race is something truly great. It will reveal what you are made of and it is worth your time and effort.”

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