We caught up with Olympic swimming inspiration, Rebecca Adlington, about her experience at London 2012, getting kids involved in swimming and what’s next for her. At just 23, Rebecca has already won 4 Olympic medals, two golds at Beijing in 2008 and two bronze in the unforgettable London 2012 Games.
Firstly, congratulations on your two bronze medals at London 2012! How did you find the Games being held in the UK?
It was absolutely brilliant, the atmosphere was incredible. Before the Games the biggest home crowd I’d competed in front of was about 2,500, so to go from that to 17,000 was totally amazing. Everyone’s support has just been so lovely and all of us athletes are so grateful.
That’s what all the athletes have said – the home crowd just made such a difference! Did you feel more pressure to perform well?
Obviously being an Olympics there is a bit of extra pressure, but generally I think that the pressure really just comes from me, as I want to do my best. But at the same time, it was the home Games and it was just absolutely incredible.
Your training schedule must be tough. What do you have to do to prepare for an Olympics?
Well I’ve been doing the same training for over 10 years now so I’ve been doing 10 sessions a week, which are all 2 hours long. I get up at 5.15am and train 6-8 in the morning and 5-7 in the evening. During the week I get Wednesday morning off and then I train Saturday morning and have the rest of the weekend off. I also do the gym on a Monday and Friday, so it is pretty tough and I’m pushing my body to the limit each day, but it’s totally worth it.
Wow, how do you motivate yourself for such a tough training schedule?
I just love doing what I do. I genuinely love the sport so it’s never been a problem for me. I think if you love what you do then it’s never as bad. Also because I want to do well and succeed that helps, as I don’t just want to do it for enjoyment, I love it and I want to do well at it.
With that much exercise you must need to eat plenty too. What do you eat in a normal day?
Well before I go training in the morning I’ll have a small bowl of cereal and then when I come back I’ll have my main breakfast which is usually a big bowl of Weetabix. The rest of my meals are pretty normal – lunch is generally a sandwich, yogurt and some fruit. And then for dinner it’s a pasta, risotto, steak pie or lasagne, that sort of stuff. We eat quite a lot and although we can’t have takeaways all the time, we are allowed to treat ourselves every now and then which is nice.
Do you like cooking?
I’m not necessarily good at cooking, but I do like it! My mum is an absolutely amazing cook, though, and she comes round to cook for me a few days a week, which is very kind of her. Generally I need to eat my dinner at 8pm so it’s hard to find the time to cook when I’m training until 7pm. So if I cook it’s generally really quick and easy things like pasta.
Do you get some time off now that the Games have finished?
Yes, I’m having my break at the moment. Although I’ve got a cycling charity event coming up soon so I’m doing some cycling training at the moment which is really nice as it’s something completely different, but still keeping fit at the same time.
Tell us more about your cycling challenge – 450k in 4 days sounds pretty tough to us!
Yes! I’m doing it with Mel Marshall, Ross Davenport and Joanna Jackson. It’s for the charity The Perfect Day Foundation and Mel Marshall is the one who has set it all up. She asked us all if we wanted to get involved and I said yes straight away as it’s a different challenge and it’s great to be doing charity work. We get to go out to Africa as the bike ride actually starts out there and we’ll get to spend a few days with the kids educating them on HIV and experiencing their culture, so I’m really looking forward to it.
It sounds like a great challenge! You’re so young and have achieved so much, what ambitions do you have left on your list?
I don’t really know to be honest! I’ve been focused on London 2012 for so long, so now I’m going to sit down with my coach and discuss where to go from here really. It’s been nice to relax after the Games and not really think about it. Four years is such a long time, so to think about Rio now is hard. You just have to wait and see what happens, really.
What other sports do you enjoy?
Well there are definitely no other sports that I’d be good enough at to compete in the Olympics! But I really enjoy cycling and tennis and they’re great ways to keep fit and healthy.
Lots of our readers have young children who might have been inspired by your achievements to get into the pool. What’s the best way for them to do that?
There are so many ways to get kids involved in sport and swimming from schemes where you can get free swims, to clubs and lessons. But just going along to your local pool and getting in the water really isn’t expensive and it’s such an easy way to get involved.
And what about ladies who’d like to use swimming to get fit or tone up. How long should they aim to swim for?
Obviously it depends on their ability, but 30 minutes is generally a good period of time to swim for. It burns about 400 calories which is as many as you would burn doing a 30-minute jog and it’s low impact. And, take a friend with you. It’s always good to have someone to chat to!
And finally, is there anything that you are really scared of?
Well I only have one fear really and it’s of the sea. It’s mainly
because you just don’t know what’s in there, sharks and the unknown!
Rebecca is keen to ensure the London 2012 Olympics creates a lasting legacy for swimming and is working with Speedo on a number of grass roots swimming events and initiatives that help inspire people to take the plunge and get into the water. Speedo offers a range of suits, training aids and goggles to suit every age, size and level. For further details visit: www.speedo.co.uk
Where to next?
– More information on swimming
– Easy exercise for the whole family