I first got into swimming at the age of 3 as my parents wanted me to learn a life skill. I fell in love with it straight away and knew that I wanted to be a swimmer. I have two older sisters who I’ve always looked up to and who inspired me to become competitive but I didn’t think I would ever become a multiple Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European medalist. I competed in four Olympic finals, winning two gold and two bronze medals in Beijing and London respectively.
The extra special bonus in my career came by breaking the World Record in the 800m freestyle in 2008. The record was 19 years old, as old as I was in Beijing; it was the highlight of my career and a stand out moment for me personally. I still can’t believe I get to say I’m the greatest swimmer that Great Britain has ever produced and I share the record as Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian!
I was incredibly privileged to have been part of Team GB at our home Olympic Games in 2012. To experience the whole atmosphere, spirit and the camaraderie of London is something I will never forget. The motto and legacy of the 2012 Olympics was to ‘inspire a generation‘, something which inspired me to set up my own learn to swim program. This has become my greatest challenge in swimming as I set out my legacy to see every child in the UK leave primary school being able to swim 25 metres.
I’m very proud of what I have achieved so far and despite retiring from competitive swimming in February 2013 my journey is far from over. Being able to swim is a wonderful life skill that I hope I can pass onto others through Becky Adlington Swim Stars. I also love working with elite athletes and mentoring our next generation of swimmers on their road to future Olympic Games.
Since retiring I have enjoyed challenging myself and exploring different avenues. I took part in the 2013 “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” which was a brilliant, once-in-a-lifetime experience and I absolutely loved it! I’ve been lucky enough to appear in a number of different tv shows and I was made up to become part of the BBC punditry team in 2013. So far, I have covered the World Championships in Barcelona and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It is incredible to be back in the swimming arena and seeing it all from a different view.
Away from sport, 2009 was a particularly special year for me for a number of different reasons. Firstly, being awarded an OBE from HRH, her Majesty the Queen; Secondly, I became an ambassador of the Encephalitis Society (www.encephalitis.info); And finally, my hometown of Mansfield refurbished the local swimming pool, Sherwood Baths, renaming it, “Rebecca Adlington Swim Centre”.
In June 2015 I gave birth to our gorgeous baby daughter Summer and she’s just the best thing ever!