Rebecca Adlington: Olympic hero

Article Ellie Moss Oct 16, 2012

The 23-year-old swimmer did Britain proud at London 2012, adding two bronze medals to the Team GB haul. We talk to Becky about pulling it off

Tell us how it felt to collect your two medals in London.
It was a big build up to London. It’s been four years of really, really tough work since Beijing. The 400m freestyle at the start of the week was a great result for me. And when I stood on that podium after my 800m freestyle it was something I will never, ever forget. It was a great experience; the crowds and the support from everyone was just amazing – I can’t thank them enough. It was so amazing to be on the podium and share it with a home crowd – and with all my family as well.

How did you deal with the pressure of competing in this year’s Games after shining as a 19 year old in Beijing?
Prior to Beijing I’d only been to a World Championshipsand thought I’d never really done anything. Since 2008, I’ve competed at the Commonwealth Games, European Championships and two further Worlds. That experience really contributed to London. But the Olympic environment makes you feel less nervous in a way, because so many athletes are in the same situation.

Were you disappointed to miss out on a gold medal at this year’s Games?
I wasn’t really aiming for a gold – it would have been nice to win, but at the same time I didn’t ever expect to go in and get a gold. I was so, so proud and pleased with my two bronze medals, I was just disappointed with my time in the 800m. I wasn’t disappointed with the place at all, it was just the time. But it just wasn’t meant to be on the day.

What’s next for you now? Will you take a break from training?
I’m having a complete break until October, then I’ll sit down with my coach and discuss what’s next. I’m looking forward to a bit of time off. This is the longest break I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely miss swimming, but I’m going to be a bridesmaid at my best friend Keri-Anne’s (Payne) wedding, I’m going on holiday for a week and I’m doing a charity bike ride in Africa, which is 450K in four days! So I’ll be doing lots of cycling and still staying pretty fit – hopefully.

What drives you to get up and into the pool or do your workouts every day?
I just genuinely love the sport. I love doingit, I think I’ve got the best job in the world. And I want to do well, I want to succeed. I think swimming is unlike any other sport. It’s completely different, the feel of being in water – you’re in your own world. It’s amazing.

Would you describe yourself as a model athlete or do you sometimes have a moan?
I like to moan, I’m not going to lie. Moaning makes me feel better! By telling myself, ‘Oh my God, this set is going to be really hard,’ it actually seems a bit easier. But I never complain about the work, I just get on with whatever my coach (Bill Furniss) writes on the board.

It must help to be dating fellow swimmer Harry Needs then…
You tend to find a lot of swimmers are dating swimmers, and I’m sure it’s the case in other sports. Swimmers have a very different lifestyle. Harry and I don’t really go out and drink, we go out for a meal or to the cinema and we’re in bed early and up at 5.30am. It’s massively important to have someone who’s supportive and really understands the experiences you go through.

When you’re in and out of the pool all day, what are your beauty essentials?
I have an amazing hairdresser, for one. I tend to use treatments and find a good shampoo to use during the week. I like Kerastase shampoo and conditioner. At the weekends
I’ll use a mask or hair treatment to restore my hair. I also use a Liz Earle moisturiser and a good waterproof mascara!

Rebecca Adlington is a Cadbury Athlete Ambassador and supports Speedo’s grass roots swimming events such as the Swimathon and Open Water Swim Series. For more information, visit