Celebrity Health - Rebecca Adlington

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"Swim when you're winning"

Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington speaks to Liz Parry about her passion for healthy living, keeping active and, of course, swimming!

Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington has won a whole host of awards during her glittering sporting career. Having competed in four Olympic finals, the 25-year-old swimming star won two gold and two bronze medals in the Beijing and London Games. She remains the current world record holder for the 800m freestyle, so it’s safe to say she is one of Britain’s most successful female athletes. Rebecca announced her retirement from international competition in February 2013 and is now devoting her energies to her Swim Stars programme, which encourages children to learn to swim in a fun environment. We caught up with Rebecca during a Legacy Games Day to find out about how she keeps fit and healthy.

Q: Tell us a bit about your involvement with the Legacy Games initiative and why it’s such an important cause to you.

Rebecca: " I was asked by Everyone Active and Fit For Sport to support the initiative and straight away I said yes. It’s all about encouraging kids to get active and involved in sport, which is something I am passionate about. The event I was attending today involved about 1,000 kids all taking part in different sports and activities – everything from bean bag races to relays and running races. There was something for everyone. And it wasn’t just for the sportiest kids either – everyone got a chance to take part. Events like this help to motivate children to join a club or get involved in a sport and I think that’s just fantastic. As an athlete I take this very seriously. We athletes have a responsibility to pass on the legacy of the Olympic Games and to encourage more and more people to get involved in sport."

Q: Do you think more needs to be done to encourage youngsters to lead a more active and healthier lifestyle?

Rebecca: "Yes. I think things have got a lot better and schools have been given more funding which is great. The Legacy Games events have also been about educating teachers and giving them new ideas for how to get kids more involved in sports. But I think there is still a lot more that can be done. Parents need to be more involved too in supporting and encouraging their kids to be more active and perhaps join a swimming or running club."

Q: When you were a child were you always sporty and active?

Rebecca: " I wouldn’t say that I’m massively sporty. I tried out lots of different things when I was a kid but I found I wasn’t very good with a bat and ball – I had no co-ordination. Swimming was the one thing that stuck. I just loved it. I literally can’t do any other sport though! All my birthday parties revolved around swimming and as a family we would go swimming together at the weekend. It was always a big part of my lifestyle. I just loved being in water."

Q: Did you ever feel like you missed out on a normal childhood due to the amount of training you had to do?

Rebecca: "Definitely not! I feel like I gained a lot rather than missed out on anything. I absolutely loved swimming and wanted to do it. I made so many friends and it was a family thing that we did together."

Q: Do you still swim regularly now?

Rebecca: "I try to but I wouldn’t say I’m consistent because it can be a bit hit and miss with work. Sometimes I’m so busy that I just can’t find the time, but I try to get in the pool whenever I can. Apart from swimming I go to the gym regularly."

Q: Do you like to follow a healthy diet?

Rebecca: "Yes, it’s very important to me. I never diet because I don’t believe you should be hungry. But I think it’s essential to follow a balanced diet and make sure that you are getting all the nutrients you need from your food. I tend to have oatmeal and soya milk for my breakfast then perhaps a soup or a salad for my lunch and in the evening I’ll have something like chicken and roasted vegetables. If I fancy a snack I’ll have some nuts or fruit. I don’t think people should get hung up on how many calories they’re consuming or whether something is low fat. I tend to think more about the nutrients in food and what my body needs to stay healthy."

Q: Do you buy organic food?

Rebecca: "Yes, most of the food we buy is organic. We have a brilliant fruit and veg shop near us and all the produce is locally sourced, so we tend to go there rather than the supermarket. Our local butcher’s is really good too because the meat is all locally sourced and really good quality."

Q: Do you take any vitamins or supplements?

Rebecca: "No, because I try to make sure I get all my vitamins and minerals through my diet and I try to lead a healthy, balanced life. I’m really careful to make sure I get my quota of fruit and veg and I don’t seem to get ill, touch wood! I don’t really drink alcohol and I don’t smoke. I like to get plenty of sleep, so I try to do the whole package."

Q: What plans do you have for the future?

Rebecca: "My Swim Stars programme is my main focus at the moment. It’s all about teaching kids to swim in a fun environment. My aim is that no child will leave primary school without being able to swim for 25 metres. Apart from that I’m focusing on getting married this summer so planning the wedding is keeping me really busy!"

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