Life After Sport

Author: Chris Walker-Hebborn

I'd like to think I'm a humble person and try hard to let my skills and personality do the talking for me. So, without going into it too much I want to shed some light on how my life has changed since being an athlete, the good and the bad. First, a little background on my career, I have swum most of my life and been competing since I was 9 years old and only retired last August at the ripe old age of 28. My career has taken me to some amazing parts of the world, given me some fantastic opportunities and also gave me the chance to make some lifelong relationships that I will cherish forever. I was fortunate enough to attain some pretty cool accolades as well, from European & World Champion to an Olympic Medallist.

Since retirement, my life has been pretty chaotic and if I am completely honest, only just settled down the last month or so. It's always been deemed a stigma or a grey area topic when it comes to athletes retiring from the sport and making that transition into the real world. I'll try to give some perspective, imagine spending most of your life dedicated to a sport, living and breathing it, never had a job, never went to university and becoming one of the best in the world at your event, then at the age of 28/29 “retiring” and then just left to your own devices to try and figure out what comes next. I can safely say it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. For this reason, I took a role as “Athlete Mentor” with Swim England to ensure that this wasn’t a problem for anyone else in my shoes or similar. With the support of family and friends and perseverance, I found my next chapter.

A common question I get asked a lot is what has changed the most between life as an athlete and now. In all honesty, not a lot. The hardest thing for me was finding a way to replicate the ability to push my body to its limits without a swimming pool, which ironically is quite hard. This is why I found myself in the gym every day, it became my sanity. Not only does it help declutter your mind, but it gives me the opportunity to push my body to its limits daily, before walking back out into the rest of the day! So, my principles as an athlete haven’t changed at all, every day I push myself and chase goals if anything my principles as an athlete has helped my transition into the real world!

My life at FLY has been amazing, from the members I work with daily, the friends I've made and the opportunities that have unfolded from working here. I've spent my entire life chasing goals and setting challenges but now my sporting life has come to an end I spend my time helping others achieve their goals and push their own boundaries. There is nothing more satisfying than being a part of someone’s fitness journey and having a positive effect on their life. If there’s one thing I hope my clients and members take from working alongside me is that nothing is impossible, with the right mindset, support and attitude you can honestly do anything you want. I also hope people see that working out can be fun, it doesn’t always have to be a grind!

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