Support through Sport UK's Helen Keeling-Marston chatted to Becky Adlington …
Hi Becky. Firstly, how are you finding your retirement from competitive swimming?
It’s funny but, whilst I don’t do competitive swimming anymore, I’m still heavily involved in other swimming-related things and so it feels more like I’ve moved departments within the same job rather than completely leaving that job. Swimming’s always been my hobby and so it’s something I’ll always be involved in.
We know that, since retirement, you’ve been encouraging young people to reap the many benefits of swimming and sport. Can you tell us about your specific aspiration for all junior school children?
Yeah. So, currently, lots of kids leave junior school without being able to swim and so I wanted to do something about it. So I set up a scheme that would like all children to be able to swim 25 metres, unaided, before they leave junior school. It’s been difficult and challenging at times - but I really love it and am totally committed to it.
You recently supported the St Alban’s Legacy Games Day. Did the ’legacy’ refer to the legacy from the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics?
Yes. After 2012, it’s really important that we keep talking about sport and promoting sport.
How did the Legacy Games Day go?
It was amazing! There were 1,000 children present and they got to play all sorts of sports and games: running, relay races, beanbag races, hula hooping. I think it was great for the children but also provided inspiration for the teachers - it gave them new ideas for PE sessions. I really believe that we all have a responsibility to get people into sport - not just the government.
What would you say were the key aims of the Legacy Games Day?
To get kids active and trying new things - and to make them realise just how much fun sport is.
If you were in an elevator with a group of young people and had two minutes to convince them of the benefits of swimming, what would your pitch be?
Firstly, I would focus on the safety side of swimming - I’d promote good pool safety. I would say to them that if they were ever to end up in water after falling out of a boat or whatever, then being able to swim would save their lives. I’d then talk about how being able to swim would mean that they could have a go at things like jet-skiing and could enjoy the thrill of water parks. So swimming would open up many other opportunities. And I’d also stress how much fun swimming can be.
And, finally, we can’t let you go without asking you about your double gold at Beijing. If you were to sum up in three words how you felt after winning that second gold, what would those words be?
1. Overwhelmed, 2. Sheer satisfaction and 3. Joy / happiness.