While Britain may be a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, they’ve giving the world such gifts as Shakespeare, an addictively preppy take on fashion, and an incorgiable (see what we did there?) queen, making the United Kingdom a force to be reckoned with.
Additionally, the small-but-perfectly-formed United Kingdom has managed to create some of the greatest sports stars of all time, from some of the biggest football (or soccer, if you’re so inclined) names in the world – we’re looking at you, David Beckham – to cricket legends, to cycling whizzes, to internationally recognised track athletes, the UK has got them all. Alongside this, they have also managed to create talented swimmers who have shown off their talents in the pool and swam to victory in various Olympic Games. Want to know one of our favourites? Of course, it’s the UK darling and swimmer extraordinaire Rebecca Adlington!
Considering it’s very rare for us to have any sun or warmth at all in England, it’s no surprise they’ve managed to create some of the greatest swimmers of all time – because they probably go to their local swimming pools to get out of the rain! Luckily, budding swimmers have been able to look up to people like Mark Foster, Ellie Simmonds, Adam Peaty, and Rebecca Adlington in order to become full-fledged water babies in their own right. As one of the most successful female swimmers in the history of British swimming, it’s fair to say that Rebecca is a national treasure – and to be honest, we kinda love her, too.
Born on 17th February 1989, Rebecca Adlington may now be a retired freestyle swimmer, but that doesn’t mean she is any less important to us. In fact, we don’t think we’re going to forget her anytime soon. Throughout her professional career, Adlington brought attention to the world of British swimming after she won the UK’s first gold medal since 1988 and became the first swimmer in the history of British swimming to win two gold medals since 1908! Yet, that was just the start of her career. She later went on to win two Olympic bronze medals, as well as other notable medals from competitors within the World Championships, European Championships, Commonwealth Games and more. While we could talk about her swimming achievements for the rest of the day, we want to know more about the swimmer than just the amount of medals she owns. So, here are 20 juicy facts about Rebecca Adlington.
She was a natural swimmer from a young age
As well as being your average British kid, Rebecca Adlington also had a pretty busy childhood – as she managed to incorporate her school life with her swimming life. While attending The Brunt’s School in Nottinghamshire, Rebecca also took swimming lessons with the Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club. Like a duck to water, Rebecca showed off her swimming skills in no time and was eventually chosen to swim for the Nottinghamshire County Elite Squad. From the get-go, her coaches knew she would go far – and we don’t just mean to the other side of the swimming pool!
She has sport in her blood
You might be wondering where Rebecca’s talent and determination for swimming came from, and it seems as though Adlington has sport in her blood. Amazingly, she has the privilege of saying that her great-uncle was Terry Adlington – who many Derby County fans will know as their former goalkeeper. Because of that, Rebecca was brought up around sport and has always been a firm lover of all things that gets her moving and grooving. She also loves to watch sport and has always been honest about the fact that she still supports Derby in the football.
Her family suffered a huge blow
However, life wasn’t always easy for Rebecca or her family when she was growing up. When Rebecca was just 17 years old, the Adlington family suffered a huge blow when Rebecca’s sister, Laura, was diagnosed with encephalitis and spent time in hospital. Although the inflammation of her brain eventually subsided and she managed to get back to full health, watching her sister suffer had a profound impact on the former professional swimmer: instead of scaring her away from pursuing her dreams, Rebecca felt more inspired than ever to reach the top.
Struggles at school
Rebecca struggled at school throughout her childhood. While she knew that she had the talent and the ambition to make it big in the world of swimming, her peers were only focused on one thing; her appearance. Rebecca would often be the victim of bullying and comments about her strong and tall stature, as well as her prominent nose. This had an overwhelming impact on her self-confidence and her mental health. During an interview with Closer Magazine in 2014, she noted that “I knew I wasn’t the most attractive girl at school,” which often knocked her confidence.
Her professional career
After years of intense training to get her ready for the big leagues, Rebecca made her professional debut into the world of swimming in 2008. This year, she competed in the Swimming World Championships, as well as the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Almost immediately, the British public fell in love with Rebecca and knew she would do their country proud. It seems the faith the British had in her paid off, as Rebecca went on to win a whopping two gold medals during her first Olympics in both the 400 and 800-meter freestyle events.
After the Olympics
After setting a new precedence and becoming the first British female swimmer to win a gold medal since 1960, all eyes were on Rebecca after the 2008 Olympics. Just a year after her Olympic debut, Rebecca noted that she felt pressured by the British public to keep up her golden reign. Many believe that this pressure later affected the swimmer’s career, as she only managed to score bronze medals in the 2012 Olympics in London – and did not bag herself another Olympic gold during her professional career. Well, in our eyes, a medal is a medal!
She retired at an early age
After suffering from a disappointing Olympic journey in London in 2012, Rebecca made the decision to leave the world of swimming behind her. So, she officially retired from swimming when she was just 23 years old in 2013 – and we kinda wish we could do the same! Despite the fact that Adlington is no longer competing as a professional swimmer herself, she is still an active member in the world of British sports and swimming and is always around during high-profile events within the World Championships and Olympics.
Not worth a lot of golf
While she is still remembered for her role within the world of sport and her two gold medals, it seems as though Rebecca isn’t overwhelmed with the gold that previously hung around her neck. During a 2016 interview with The Telegraph, she noted that her gold medals are her most treasured possession in terms of their sentimental value, but that they aren’t worth a lot in monetary terms. In fact, she confirmed that these gold medals are simply gold plated, and are only worth around £1000.
Inspiring the next generation
Now that she is no longer swimming professionally, Rebecca has more time to focus on her own personal projects – including Becky Adlington Training. With the aim to inspire the next generation of swimmers, the Becky Adlington Training company employs some of the country’s best swimming coaches to deliver fun and effective swimming lessons to children across England within her own Swim Stars swimming schools. With her knowledge and experience, Rebecca trains swimming coaches to teach the next generation of swimming superstars, in the hopes that they will make their own Olympic debuts.
Queen of the jungle
As well as creating her own swim school, Rebecca has also become a firm figure within the world of popular culture – especially after her appearance on the popular celebrity reality survival show; I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! Adlington appeared in season 13 of the show, where she flew to Australia to live in the jungle and take part in tasks that involved a whole bunch of creepy crawlies. Although Rebecca only managed to finish in 6th place, she’s still our queen of the jungle, and that has to stand for something, right?
Jumping for joy
After fans fell in love with her humour and her nerve in the jungle, Rebecca became a firm favourite for many other reality TV shows, but she wasn’t going to accept just any old gig. In 2016, she was offered the chance to star on the reality ski jumping competition show, The Jump. As a keen sports star and eager student when it comes to learning new skills, Rebecca literally jumped at the chance to take part in the show. Sadly, her time on the show came to an abrupt end before it really started, as Adlington dislocated her shoulder during the training period.
Life as a TV commentator
Considering she is one of the most decorated swimmers in the world of British sport, it’s no surprise that Rebecca is often called upon during high-profile sporting events. Nowadays, she is known as the former swimmer and current sports commentator, a title which came to her during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, when Rebecca joined the likes of Mark Foster and Helen Skelton as part of the BBC commentary team during the swimming events. She later reprised this role for the 2017 World Aquatics Championships.
A television star
Since making her debut on reality television and television commentary, Rebecca has built up a reputation for being a popular TV star. Because of this, she has appeared on numerous shows as a guest star. Most of these have been sports panel shows, such as A Question of Sport: Super Sunday, and A League of Their Own. She has also appeared on many game shows, including The Chase: Celebrity Special, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Celebrity Come Dine With Me. As if that wasn’t cool enough, she was also a contestant on the celebrity cooking show, Celebrity Masterchef in 2017.
An appearance to remember
While she is a popular television guest, Rebecca made an appearance to remember in 2017 when she was a guest on the weekend cooking show, Saturday Kitchen. As she was interviewed about her own food preferences, viewers soon realized that Rebecca was incredibly fussy about the food she likes and dislikes. In fact, she barely liked anything that the chefs cooked for her. Viewers were quick to pick up on this fact and plagued her social media with questions and complaints as to why she agreed to go on a show she could not get involved in.
Her loving relationship
In 2011, fans of Rebecca were happy to find out that the talented swimmer had found love with a fellow lover of the water – Harry Needs. The pair seemed like the perfect match, as they both dedicated their lives to their careers, but also shared a mutual love for swimming and competition. During the 2012 Olympic Games, Harry supported her through each event, and fans weren’t surprised to discover that he popped the question in 2013. The pair tied the knot just a year later in a beautiful ceremony in Staffordshire.
A new surprise
Just a few months after Rebecca and Harry exchanged their vows, the loved-up couple announced they were expecting their first child. The couple were overwhelmed by the news and couldn’t wait to expand their family. In June 2015, they finally announced to the world that they had welcomed their first daughter into the world, and had called her Summer. On her Twitter account, Rebecca noted that she and Harry were, “Over the moon as we welcomed our beautiful baby girl this morning. She’s doing well, and we’re so in love!”
It all went wrong
However, within months of their marriage and their wedding, the cracks started to show between Rebecca and Harry. Instead of taking time off to be a mother, Rebecca went back to work two months after giving birth and allegedly found herself arguing more and more with her husband. It seems the straw that broke the camel’s back was the injury that she incurred during her time on The Jump in 2016. Shortly after this injury, Rebecca and Harry released a statement to announce that they would be legally separating but were fully committed to raising their daughter together.
The online trolls
We already know that Rebecca suffered with her confidence during her schooling, but this was not something that magically disappeared. In fact, she felt increasingly insecure as she made her way into the limelight, and would have to deal with online trolls on a daily basis. While these were mostly complete strangers commenting on her nose or her weight, she was often the main focus of many famous comedian’s jokes, including the controversial Frankie Boyle. She spoke to The Daily Mail about the abuse and noted that the comments would often make her break down in tears.
Making a decision
After years of feeling self-conscious about her nose and having to deal with the online trolls who insulted her and commented on her features, Rebecca had to make a decision. In preparation for her wedding, Rebecca decided to lose around 30 lbs of weight, and go under the knife to have a nose job. While she did not have major surgery, she paid to have a bump on the top of her nose removed to make her nose more uniform on her face. During an interview with The Daily Mail, Rebecca noted that “I am definitely happier now.”
There will always be haters
While friends, family, and fans were happy to see that Rebecca was happier with her new nose, she realized that there will always be haters. She still received comments from trolls who told her that she had ‘given in’ to the haters and the bullies, and she even received abuse from the notorious British columnist, Katie Hopkins. Katie noted that Rebecca’s decision to go under the knife was “a big mistake” and that she “let them [internet trolls] win.” Nevertheless, Rebecca is now happy with her appearance, which is all that matters!