Rebecca "Becky" AdlingtonOBE (born 17 February 1989) is a retired English freestyle swimmer. She won two gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in the 400 m and 800 m, breaking the 19-year-old world record of Janet Evans in the 800 m final. Adlington was Britain's first Olympic swimming champion since 1988 and the first British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals since 1908.[2] She won bronze medals in the women's 400 m and 800 m freestyle events in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. With four Olympic medals, Adlington shares the record as Great Britain's most decorated female Olympian withKatherine Grainger.

Adlington retired from all competitive swimming on 5 February 2013, at the age of 23.[3]


 [hide*1 Background


Adlington was born in MansfieldNottinghamshire, where she attended The Brunts School.[4] She started swimming with Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club,[5] and was selected for the Nottinghamshire County Swim Squad (Nova Centurion)[6] where she currently trains. She still swims in local swimming leagues for ham Leander Swimming Club, having taken part in the National Speedo 'B' Final in May 2010.[7] Adlington's great-uncle is former Derby Countygoalkeeper Terry Adlington,[8] and she is a keen Derby supporter.

In 2005, Adlington's sister, Laura, was affected by encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. She recovered over time, but its impact was such that she went on to say "It made me more determined. It makes me train harder." [9] Adlington became an Ambassador of the Encephalitis Society in 2009, to help raise awareness of the illness.[10]

Competitive career[edit]Edit

Rebecca Adlington represented Great Britain in the 2008 Summer Olympics, competing in the 400 m and 800 m freestyle swimming events. She was also scheduled to swim in the 4×200 m freestyle relay but was rested in the heat and the team failed to qualify for the final. In the heats of the 400 m freestyle, she broke the Commonwealth record with a time of 4:02.24.[11] On 11 August 2008 she won an Olympic gold medal in the same event, with a time of 4:03.22, beating Katie Hoff of the United States in the last 20 m.[12] She was the first woman to win swimming gold for Great Britain since Anita Lonsbrough in 1960.[13]She was the first British swimmer to win more than one gold medal at a single Olympic Games since Henry Taylor won three in 1908.[14]

In 2009 Adlington admitted she suffered with the expectation placed on her ahead of the World Aquatics Championships in Rome and although she swam a personal best she was only able to win bronze in the 400 m freestyle. She added a second bronze in the 4 × 200 m freestyle. In her favourite event, the 800 m freestyle she missed out on a chance for a medal and came fourth.

In 2010 Adlington won the 400 m freestyle at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest but again failed to win a medal in her favoured 800 m freestyle as she faded to seventh. She won bronze as part of the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay team and.

At the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi she won a "bonus" bronze medal in the 200 m freestyle and was part of the English record setting 4 × 200 m freestyle relay team that also won bronze. In the 800 m freestyle Adlington led from start to finish to win her first Commonwealth Games gold medal. In the 400 m freestyle Adlington won comfortably to earn a second gold medal and repeat her Olympic double. She ended the season ranked 2 at 400 m freestyle and 1 at 800 m freestyle.

At the 2011 World Aquatics Championships Adlington won the 800 metre freestyle gold medal, beating Lotte Friis over the final 50 metres and silver in the 400 metre freestyle behind world record holder, Federica Pellegrini of Italy.[15]

At the London 2012 Olympics, Adlington won bronze in the 400 m freestyle in a time of 4:03.01.[16] and another bronze in the women's 800 m freestyle in a time of 8:20.32. After the Games Adlington said that she was done with the 800 metres and would not compete in Rio. However she did not rule out competing in Glasgow.[17] She later decided not to compete.

Records set[edit]Edit

Adlington set a new BritishCommonwealthEuropean and Olympic record of 8:18.06 in the preliminary heats of the women's 800 metre freestyle on 14 August 2008. She went on to win the 800 m Olympic freestyle final on 16 August 2008 in a world record time of 8:14.10, her second gold of the tournament, a full six seconds ahead of the silver medalist, and two seconds ahead of the former world record which had been set by Janet Evans when Adlington was 6 months old. At the time, this was swimming's longest standing world record.[18]


The Sherwood Swimming Baths in Adlington's hometown of Mansfield, where she began swimming as a child was renamed the Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre when it reopened after refurbishment in January 2010.[19][20] The Yates Bar in Mansfield was renamed the Adlington Arms in her honour,[21] although it soon reverted to its original name.[citation needed]

In November 2008, Adlington was named as the Sports Journalists' Association's Sportswoman of the Year, receiving her trophy at a ceremony in the City of London from HRH The Princess Royal, herself a former winner of that award.

On 14 December 2008, she was voted third in the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award.

She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[22][23]

One of the Southeastern Class 395 high-speed trains, which are used domestically to provide a 140 mph London-Kent link, and which were used to provide the Javelin shuttle service for visitors to the London Olympic Games, has been named after Adlington.[24] Several other British Olympians have also received this honour.


On 25 March, 2 and 17 April and 22 May 2014, Rebecca was a guest panellist on the ITV lunchtime chat show Loose Women.

I'm a Celebrity...[edit]Edit

Main article: I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

Adlington participated in the thirteenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, which began airing from 17 November 2013 and is held in Australia.[25] She finished in 6th place, being voted out by the public on 5 December 2013.

Guest appearances[edit]Edit

Personal bests and records held[edit]Edit

Long course (50 m)
Event Time

Date Meet Location Ref
200 m freestyle  1:56.66  5 Apr 2008 British Championships Sheffield, United Kingdom {{{ref}}}
400 m freestyle  4:00.79  26 Jul 2009 2009 World Championships Rome, Italy {{{ref}}}
800 m freestyle  8:14.10  OR, ER, CR, NR 16 Aug 2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China {{{ref}}}
400 m individual medley  4:56.34  11 Jun 2006 Mare Nostrum Barcelona, Spain {{{ref}}}
Short course (25 m)
Event Time

Date Meet Location Ref
200 m freestyle  1:59.25  3 Apr 2006 Nottinghamshire Championships Nottingham, United Kingdom {{{ref}}}
400 m freestyle  3:59.04  18 Dec 2009 Duel in the Pool Manchester, United Kingdom {{{ref}}}
800 m freestyle  8:08.25  CR, NR 10 Apr 2008 World SC Championships Manchester, United Kingdom {{{ref}}}

Legend: WR – World record; ER – European record; CR – Commonwealth record; NR – British record; Records not set in finals: h – heat; sf – semifinal; r – relay 1st leg; rh – relay heat 1st leg; b – B final;  – en route to final mark; tt – time trial

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