Rebecca Adlington

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Rebecca Adlington
Becky Adlington2012 Olympic Parade.jpg
Personal information
Full name Rebecca Adlington
Nickname(s) "Becky"
National team  Great Britain
Born (1989-02-17) 17 February 1989 (age 31)
Mansfield, England
Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Weight 70 kg (150 lb; 11 st)[1]
Sport Swimming
Strokes Freestyle
Club Nova Centurion
Coach Bill Furniss

Rebecca Adlington, OBE (born 17 February 1989) is an English former competitive swimmer who specialised in freestyle events in international competition. She won two gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in the 400-metre freestyle and 800-metre freestyle, breaking the 19-year-old world record of Janet Evans in the 800-metre 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-metre and 800-metre 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 with Katherine Grainger.

Adlington retired from all competitive swimming on 5 February 2013, at the age of 23,[3] and had a baby named Summer with her husband, former swimmer Harry Needs,[4] in 2015.[5][6]


Adlington was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, where she attended The Brunts School.[7] She started swimming with Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club,[8] and was selected for the Nottinghamshire County Elite Squad (Nova Centurion Swimming Club).[9][10] She swam in local swimming leagues for Notttingham Leander Swimming Club, having taken part in the National Speedo 'B' Final in May 2010.[11] Adlington's great-uncle is former Derby County goalkeeper Terry Adlington,[12] 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 inspired Rebecca to say in 2012 "It made me more determined. It makes me train harder".[13] Adlington became an Ambassador of the Encephalitis Society in 2009, to help raise awareness of the illness.[14]

Competitive career

Adlington represented Great Britain in the 2008 Summer Olympics, competing in the 400-metre freestyle and 800-metre freestyle events. She was also scheduled to swim in the 4×200-metre freestyle relay but was rested in the heat and the team failed to qualify for the final. In the heats of the 400-metre freestyle, she broke the Commonwealth record with a time of 4:02.24.[15] 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 metres.[16] was the first woman to win swimming gold for Great Britain since Anita Lonsbrough in 1960.[17] 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.[18]

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-metre freestyle. She added a second bronze in the 4×200-metre freestyle. In her favourite event, the 800-metre freestyle she missed out on a chance for a medal and came fourth.

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

At the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi she won a "bonus" bronze medal in the 200-metre freestyle and was part of the English record setting 4×200-metre freestyle relay team that also won bronze. In the 800-metre freestyle, Adlington led from start to finish to win her first Commonwealth Games gold medal. In the 400-metre freestyle Adlington won comfortably to earn a second gold medal and repeat her Olympic double. She ended the season ranked No. 2 in the 400-metre freestyle and No. 1 in the 800-metre 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.[19]

At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Adlington won bronze in the 400-metre freestyle in a time of 4:03.01.[20] and another bronze in the women's 800-metre freestyle in a time of 8:20.32. After the Games, Adlington said that she was done with the 800-metre race and would not compete in Rio.[21]

Records set

Adlington set a new British, Commonwealth, European 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 Olympic 800-metre 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.[22]


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.[23][24] The Yates Bar in Mansfield was renamed the Adlington Arms in her honour,[25] 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.[26][27]

One of the Southeastern Class 395 high-speed trains, which are used domestically to provide a 140-mph London-to-Kent link and provided the Javelin shuttle service for visitors to the 2012 London Olympic Games, was named after Adlington.[28] Several other British Olympians 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...

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.[29] She finished in 6th place, being voted out by the public on 6 December 2013.

Guest appearances

Personal bests and records held

Long course (50 m)
Event Time

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

Date Meet Location Ref
200 m freestyle 1:59.25 3 Apr 2006 Nottinghamshire Championships Nottingham, United Kingdom
400 m freestyle 3:59.04 18 Dec 2009 Duel in the Pool Manchester, United Kingdom
800 m freestyle 8:08.25 CR, NR 10 Apr 2008 World SC Championships Manchester, United Kingdom
Legend: WRWorld record; EREuropean record; CRCommonwealth record; NRBritish 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

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Rebecca Adlington's profile at the Olympic Games 2012 official site". Retrieved 22 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Video review – Adlington is GB's golden girl". BBC Sport. 24 August 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Rebecca Adlington: Time right to retire from swimming". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 'I'm happy I'm marrying the love of my life': A slim Rebecca Adlington weds Harry Needs Daily Express, 8 September 2014, Retrieved 24 September 2015
  5. Cheery new mum Rebecca Adlington is slender in stripes as she and husband Harry Needs take newborn Summer for a stroll Mail Online 27 June 2015, Retrieved 24 September 2015
  6. Rebecca Adlington takes baby Summer swimming Manchester Evening News, 1 August 2015, Retrieved 24 September 2015
  7. "Open top bus parade to salute double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington". Mansfield Chad. 17 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Nova Centurion Swim Squads, Retrieved 24 September 2015
  10. "Notts. ASA".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Nottingham Leander Swimming Club".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "A long and winding road". This is South Devon. 23 October 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "My Sister's Brush With Death Inspires Me". The Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Gold medal swimmer and TV star officially launch charity HQ". The Press. York. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Adlington sets sights on GB medal". BBC Sport. 10 August 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Adlington snatches swimming gold". BBC Sport. 11 August 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Anita Lonsbrough (11 August 2008). "Rebecca Adlington wins gold on a rewarding day for Britain – Beijing Olympics 2008". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Will Buckley (17 August 2008). "Olympics: 'Dame' Rebecca arises with second gold". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "14th FINA World Championships; Women's 800m Freestyle; Final Results" (PDF). Omega Timing. 30 July 2011. Retrieved 1 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Rebecca Adlington wins Olympics swimming bronze behind Muffat". Retrieved 29 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Rebecca Adlington rules out competing at 2016 Olympics in Rio". BBC Sport. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Adlington storms to second gold". BBC Sport. 16 August 2008. Retrieved 16 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Mansfield to honour Olympic hero". Mansfield District Council. 11 August 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre". Mansfield District Council. Retrieved 3 July 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Adlington Arms awaits golden girl". The Independent. London. 26 August 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58929. p. 8. 31 December 2008.
  27. "Hoy knighted in New Year honours". BBC News. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "First Class 395 'Javelin' named at Ashford International" (PDF), Railway Herald (195): 6, 28 September 2009<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Denham, Jess (13 November 2013). "I'm A Celebrity 2013 contestants: Rebecca Adlington to join Joey Essex in the jungle". The Independent. Retrieved 27 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
Janet Evans
Women's 800 metres freestyle
world record holder (long course)

16 August 2008 – 3 August 2013
Succeeded by
Katie Ledecky
Preceded by
Laure Manaudou
European Swimmer of the Year
Succeeded by
Federica Pellegrini
Preceded by
Lewis Hamilton
Laureus World Sports
Breakthrough of the Year

Succeeded by
Jenson Button