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Olympian Kukors decides to retire from world-class swimming
When the time came to hang up her swim cap for good, Ariana Kukors had no qualms.
"I always kind of thought that 2012 would be my last year," the now-retired Olympian said. "The (London) Olympics were the perfect icing on the cake. I'm very pleased and content with my career. I'm very happy with how everything went and excited to be walking away with great memories and great friends."
After spending much of last fall mulling over whether she should step away from her life as a competitor – a career during which she set the 200-meter individual medley (long course) world record and represented her country at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London – when the new year dawned, the Auburn native said, she notified her sponsors of her decision.
Kukors, an Auburn Mountainview graduate and a Pac-10 champion at the University of Washington, finished fifth in the 200 IM final at the London Games. Kukors, competing in her first Olympics, touched the wall in 2 minutes, 9.83 seconds.
Kukors set the world record in the 200 IM (2:06.15) at Italy in July 2009. She won seven medals in major international competition – two golds, three silvers and two bronze spanning the World and the Pan Pacific Championships.
Although many athletes struggle to stay busy and fulfilled after their competitive days are over, Kukors said, she's not worried about filling the void.
"We always emphasized that 'you're not a swimmer, you're a person that swims,'" Kukors said. "In my family school, family and friends were also important. My parents stressed that it was important to live a balanced life."
Kukors, 24, said she is filling the void by inspiring and teaching others about the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle.
"Workouts will always be important. I live an active and healthy life, and the pool will always be where I go to relieve my stress," she said.
Kukors' job as director of health inspiration for LifeWise Health Plan of Washington keeps her moving, too.
"I feel very privileged to have that title," Kukors said. "We're both committed to being health support partners, and my values line up with them We're working together to inspire people."
To achieve that, Kukors said, she writes for the organization's Website, Actively Northwest, an online lifestyle magazine.
"I'm on there engaging with people and writing articles," she said.
She also reaches out with her message of health at LifeWise's #FitMob events, a series of free fitness challenges conducted over the past six-months at various spots throughout the Puget Sound Region.
"Our last one is Saturday at the Garfield Community Center," she said. "We have stuff for beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts. There is something there for everybody. We've done stairs, yoga and Tai Chi. People have been really excited about them. It's just one of the ways we're reaching out to the community."
Kukors, who runs swimming camps and clinics locally for aspiring young swimmers, said she hopes to continue to inspire both kids and adults to live healthy, active lifestyles.
"It's just something that's important to me," she said. "I care about kids and want to help them change their lives."
Visit www.activelynorthwest.com to read more about #FitMob and Kukors.