Rebecca Adlington is an English former competitive swimmer. She has won four Olympic medals including two Olympic gold medals. She was Britain’s first Olympic swimming champion since 1988, and the first British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals since 1908. She is Great Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian.
Adlington was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. She learnt to swim at age 3 and fell in love with the sport straight away. She swam with Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club before being selected for the Nottinghamshire County Elite Squad (Nova Centurion Swimming Club).
In 2008 Adlington represented Great Britain in the Summer Olympics, she competed in the 400 m and 800 m freestyle swimming events. She broke the Commonwealth record with a time of 4:02.24 in the heats of the 400m freestyle before winning an Olympic gold medal in the event. She was the first woman to win swimming gold for Great Britain since Anita Lonsbrough in 1960. She also won gold in the 800m freestyle, making her the first British swimmer to win more than one gold medal at a single Olympic Games since Henry Taylor won three in 1908.
In 2009 Adlington swam a personal best at the World Aquatics Championships in Rome and won bronze in the 400m freestyle, she also won bronze in the 4 x 200m freestyle. In 2010 she won the 400m freestyle at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest and gained a bronze medal as part of the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay team. At the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi Adlington won a Commonwealth Games gold medal in the 400m and 800m freestyle. She was also part of the English record setting 200 m freestyle relay team who won bronze. In 2011 Adlington won the 800m freestyle gold medal and the silver medal in the 400-metre freestyle. In 2012 Adlington represented Great Britain in the Olympic Games for the second time. She won bronze in both the 400m and 800m freestyle.
After the 2012 London Olypmic Games she became Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian joint with Katherine Grainger. Adlington focused her attention on the motto of the Olympic games. To ‘inspire a generation’. Adlington set up her own learn to swim program, the ‘Swim Stars’ which aims to see every child in the UK leave primary school being able to swim 25 metres. Adlington is also an Ambassador of the Encephalitis Society which aims to raise awareness of the illness. Her sister Laura had been affected by encephalitis in 2005 but has since recovered.
In February 2013 Adlington retired from competitive swimming. She has taken part in a number of TV shows and in 2013 became part of the BBC punditry team covering the World Championships in Barcelona and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Adlington has been named the Sports Journalists’ Association’s Sportswoman of the Year of 2008 and the same year was voted third in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. In 2009 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours. Her hometown of Mansfield renamed Sherwood Baths, the local swimming pool. It is now the “Rebecca Adlington Swim Centre”.