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ADVERTISEMENTJazz Carlin's body had been dropping hints about retirement for a few months before she called it a day – she was expecting that, Olympic-level swimming is traditionally a young person's game.

What the Swindon-born star was not expecting was what her body started telling her after she quit sport this year.

"As a swimmer, I had got very used to seeing my body look a certain way and now it was changing and not, I thought, in a good way," she said.

"Clothes weren't fitting me any more and I didn't want to step on the scales or show my body in a swimming costume – I felt a bit ashamed.

Jazz, who won two Olympic silver medals in 2016, as well as Commonwealth and European titles, spoke out during Mental Wealth month, the BBC Wiltshire initiative being supported by the Adver.

As a distance swimmer, Jazz, 28, was conditioned to ploughing up and down the pool for hours at a time, the water sculpting her body.

She was also used to eating a lot. The one necessitated the other.

This is a balancing act every endurance athlete will recognise and it is an equation that will produce different results if you tweak the variables, as Jazz discovered.

What was once hard and sleek, became... well, softer and rounder.

"I was pretending everything was fine but I was struggling," she said.

And then she spoke to a good friend who had just had a baby, a body-changing experience that many women can empathise with.

"She said something really important: whenever you leave a mirror, do it with at least one positive thought – that really resonated," explained Jazz.

So, with her confidence returning, she decided to post a picture of herself in a bikini on social media.

Alongside the picture she wrote a few lines to explain why she was doing it. She wrote that she had lost the lean body of a swimmer and it had initially knocked her confidence but she was "starting to embrace how I look".

She also got dozens of compliments about how good she looked.

"I really pondered over the post and wondered whether I should do it," said Jazz.

"I was worried people wouldn't understand it and would think I was just looking for compliments. But the truth is I hadn't been happy with what I was seeing in the mirror."

Not being happy with how you look is the impulse that drives everything from the diet industry to plastic surgery but it is not usually thought about as a mental health issue.

Jazz added: "I am really pleased I did post the picture because I got some amazing messages back from young girls who have struggled with their body image and ex-athletes who have been through exactly the same thing."

The BBC's Mental Wealth calendar covers the whole of May and features 31 different tips.

Today's is 'catch-up cuppa' – encouraging people to lift their mood by meeting a friend or family member for a coffee and a chat..

https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/17655606.olympic-silver-medallist-swimmer-jazz-carlin-reveals-struggle-with-body-image/