For a happier, healthier you join My Health & Wellbeing for unlimited free access.

Get Started

January Download our guides now!


Are you a wellness warrior?

Vote today

Listen to our podcast today

Rebecca Adlington

Rebecca Adlington’s Advice for Swimmers

4 MIN READ • 1st May 2024

Sarah Highfield puts all our swimming questions to iconic British Olympian, Rebecca Adlington OBE

When it comes to the standout superstars of British swimming, without a doubt, Rebecca Adlington, OBE, is one of the first people who comes to mind. A powerhouse of a swimmer; she is bearer to a whopping four Olympic Games medals, two of them gold, and six swimming World Championships medals. Here she sits down for an exclusive chat with us about her love of swimming, guidance for new swimmers, and her favourite way to both fuel up before and replenish after swimming. So read on for Rebecca Adlington’s advice for swimmers of all abilities…

What age did you first start swimming?

I first started at the age of three, though, I have been told that I actually was not a natural swimmer straightaway but I did love being in the water.

Which other swimmers have inspired you the most?

Growing up, I was inspired to swim by my sisters. I was the baby of the family, so my sisters could swim before I had even started, and I really did not want to be in the baby pool with armbands on while they were having fun in the big pool. Throughout my teenage years, both Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps were hugely inspirational to me.

How did you calm your nerves at big events such as the Olympic Games?

I was always a very nervous racer and preferred the training to the actual racing. I would start getting nervous weeks in advance of a big event. Eventually, I worked with a brilliant sports psychologist to help effectively manage my nerves. Before a race, my coach used to remind me to focus on three things, more than three was too much. Some swimmers listen to music ahead of races, but that never worked for me, so I would repeat the three things I was focused on in my mind, and talk to my coach and other athletes to help keep me calm.

Which race during your career was your favourite?

Definitely the 800m freestyle race at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, which I won a gold medal for and broke the world record at. That was a very special moment and race for me.

Do you have a favourite swimming pool?

I have so many, but I particularly love both the Beijing and London Olympic pools. I also like outdoor pools, especially in the Summer and there is one in Rome which comes to mind.

What is your advice for new swimmers?

First and foremost, try to find swimwear that you feel comfortable in. There are so many options out there, so look around for something you like and that fits well. Otherwise, do a little bit of research on the pools in your local area. Most people just check the prices, but it is also worth looking at the pool timetables as they might do women-only sessions or offer quieter times. Finally, it is worth checking that the changing rooms are nice and the pool temperature is pleasant.

What is your advice for swimmers who want to level-up?

Consistency is key when improving your swimming technique. It is better to go little and often, instead of a two-hour swim every two weeks. By ensuring your swim sessions are regular, your fitness levels will increase and you will get a better feel for the water (yes, that is a real thing!).

How do you motivate yourself on days you feel sluggish?

It is hard, even for me. You can always take a friend or family member swimming with you as this does help with motivation. Otherwise, I promise, once you go, you will feel better. Even if you go for a short swim, it is beneficial and you will perk up. Do not be too hard on yourself and just go for a gentle swim if possible.

What do you eat before swimming, what fuels you up the best?

I like to eat something light and nothing too big or heavy. I find that snacks like yoghurt, bananas and nuts are all great before a swim.

What do you like to eat after swimming to help you replenish and recover?

Post-swim, preferably you want to eat within 30-45 minutes of your swim to fully replenish and reap the recovery benefits, so it is great if you can meal prep beforehand. I always try to eat something balanced, which includes protein, fibre, and lots of veggies.

What exciting activities do you have lined up for the remainder of 2024?

As part of my learn to swim programme called Swim!, I am expanding into more swimming venues across the country. I want to help more children learn how to swim, not only is it a healthy activity, it is a vital life skill. Also, I have a fun weekend in May that I am looking forward to where I will be running some swimming sessions at the new Anda Barut Collection hotel in Turkey. Finally, I will be out in Paris for the Summer 2024 Olympics, which I am very excited about.

Want to meet Rebecca Adlington in-person and swim alongside her? Join Rebecca and other British Olympians at Anda Barut Collection for an exclusive Wellness Weekend with Olympic Medallists from 10-12 May 2024. The weekend will offer a sports-filled experience for everyone and guests will receive guidance, training, and inspiration from the best in the world.

Show your inbox some love

Get a weekly digest of Health & Wellbeing emailed direct to you.

Next up

Access everything, free!

Unlock the website for exclusive member-only content – all free, all the time. What are you waiting for? Join My Health & Wellbeing today!

Join the club today
Already a member? Log in to not see this again
Join My H&W