Becky Adlington makes a splash in Stratford
- Credit: Mikael Buck
Budding athletes were given a splash of inspiration after champion swimmer Rebecca “Becky” Adlington returned yesterday to the borough.
The 26-year-old Olympic medallist was re-visiting the former Athletes Village where she lived during the London 2012 Games, before giving a talk at Stratford’s Chobham Academy.
“I think the main thing is to enjoy it,” said Becky, ahead of her visit to the Cheering Lane school, built in the new East Village development.
“These guys are so close to the Aquatics Centre, it’s absolutely amazing, and really cheap to swim in – it’s incredible that they have all this on their door-step,” enthused the mum-of-one, who set the world record when she won the 800m Olympic freestyle final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Everyone should get support from their school, use that teamwork and commitment from the people around them,” she added.
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Becky may have retired from competitive swimming at 23, and got married and given birth within the last year, but she shows no signs of slowing down.
“I’m trying to go to as many schools as possible, because in five years I won’t be able to relate to them in the same way. Especially with the Olympics coming up, it’s such a good way of getting involved.
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“A lot of kids ask about how to balance school work with training,” added Becky, who has poured her passion for swimming and teaching into her own swimming programme, Becky Adlington’s SwimStars.
“There have been a lot of pool closures in the last few years, which is such a shame, so there’s nowhere for people to go. A lot of the younger ones are more enthusiastic about the sport because they’ve watched it on TV, especially from the London Olympics.
“I’m hearing so many more kids saying they wanted to swim. My aim is that everyone is able to swim 25m. “Fifty-one per cent of kids leave primary school unable to swim. I was so shocked [at that statistic], I needed to go and do something about it myself.
“It’s a safe way for kids to learn how to swim, it’s not an Olympic programme but a fun environment where the kids can learn in groups of a maximum of six.”
Becky was full of praise for the new East Village, re-developed by Get Living London, where she unveiled a plaque in her former residence.
“I’ve been to the pool but not back to the village at all,” she said.
“It’s so different, it’s been three years since I’ve been back and it’s amazing how quickly it all comes flooding back.
“Some of the building and the park, it’s incredible, it brings back nice memories.
“The Olympics has done a massive amount for the area, I don’t normally see these nice green areas in London, you don’t really feel like it’s in the city centre.
“Everything’s on your doorstep, there’s so much going going on with the schools and the parks, the stadium and pool. There’s a great community feel.”
To find out more about Becky’s programme, go to beckyadlingtonsswimstars.com
For more information on housing in the East Village development, go to getlivinglondon.com