Olympic Stories

Rebecca Adlington - Swimming

Rebecca Adlington - Swimming

Born on February 17, 1989 in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England, Rebecca Adlington is an English freestyle swimmer who will be representing Team Great Britain at the Summer Olympic Games in London in 2012. Her second Olympic appearance, Adlington is the previous winner of two gold medals via the 2008 Games in Beijing. Her victory in her specialty events, the 400m and 800m, made Adlington the first British swimmer to win two Olympic Gold medals since 1908.

While Olympic swimmers like Michael Phelps receive most of the notoriety around the world, Rebecca quietly excels in any event she enters, standing out as one of the greatest swimmers in British history. She owns multiple swimming records, including British, European and Olympic records, and at only 22 years of age, 2012 may not even be the midway point for Adlington.

Sporting Career

Rebecca Adlington grew up around the Mansfield area where she was born and started swimming at an early age via the Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club. Excelling at swimming at such a young age, Adlington was handpicked by the Nottinghamshire County Swim Squad, where she has been swimming and training for years. True to her roots, Rebecca has never sought out the lavish training accommodations that so many athletes do. She has remained grounded and humble despite being one of Britain’s most formidable athletes.

Adlington had some success as an amateur swimmer, but before she could ever get her feet wet in the professional ranks, the 2008 Olympic Games were arriving and Britain needed a talented swimmer to represent them. Rebecca gladly accepted the call and competed in the 400m and 800m events. After being put on Team GB, Adlington broke the Commonwealth record in the 400m freestyle just months before competing in the Olympics.

During the Games in Beijing, Adlington was an underdog to American swimmer Katie Hoff. In the 400m event, it looked like Hoff would defeat Rebecca and the rest of the field handily, but after their last turn, Adlington surged into the lead in the final 20m of the race, making her the first Gold Medal winner for Great Britain in 1960’s Anita Lonsbrough. With her second Gold Medal of the Games, she became the first Briton to win Gold multiple times since Henry Taylor did it in 1908 (3).

The expectations were extremely high for Adlington in 2009. Going from a relatively unknown 18-year-old swimmer to a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner, the pressure was on Rebecca as she entered the World Swimming Championships. Even though Rebecca would put up personal best times, she couldn’t pull away from the competition and ultimately finished with two bronze medals and a 4th place finish in three events.
Entering the 2012 Olympic Games, Adlington no longer has the element of surprise. Every swimmer will have her in their sights, and Rebecca seems poised and ready for the challenge.

Career Highlights

  • 2008 Commonwealth Games – Gold
  • 2008 Beijing Olympics – Gold (2)
  • 2009 World Swimming Championships – Bronze (2)
  • 2010 European Swimming Championships – Bronze
  • 2010 Commonwealth Games – Bronze
  • 2011 World Championships – 1st
  • 2012 Summer Olympics – Bronze (2)

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