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Speedo Q&A with Kay Adlington

Ever wondered what it's like to be mum to an Olympic champion? Speedo put some questions on swimming, health and motivations to Kay Adlington, mother of Olympic champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington.

Kay is also a judge on Speedo's The S Factor - find out more here. 


  • Why do you feel swimming is so important for children?

Swimming is an essential life skill. It also helps develop confidence in other ways – their personal development, working with others and learning to take advice and instruction from other adults.

Kids can have so much fun swimming and as they get older, I believe  they benefit from a whole host of other areas and skills including self-discipline, time management, stimulation, drive, as well as all the social aspects.

  • Do any of your other children swim?

Since our first daughter, Chloe, was five (now 28) swimming has always been part of the Adlington household routine. I have three daughters who have all swam from the age of four or five and always loved it.

  • Did you swim as a child?

Yes I did and I can clearly remember having to do the pyjama and brick recovery exercise for lifesavers!

  • Are you generally a healthy family - do you eat healthily, play sports,etc?

Yes, but my husband and I could be fitter! But we walk everyday with our dogs, try to eat a balanced diet and when the girls were younger, we played other sports, badminton, tennis, etc together as a family.

  • At what age did Rebecca start swimming, and did she always show natural talent?

Becky started swimming when she was four years old and I would say she loved it from the start. It was more about passion then, rather than showing a natural talent.

  • At what age did you realise Becky's potential?the S factor

When Becky swam in her first international GB junior competition in the 2003 Youth Olympics, she won two silver medals in the 400m and 800m front-crawl. This was a clear sign of her potential.

  • Do you feel swimming with kids offers a good bonding or relationship building activity with kids?

Absolutely. I think being in a pool with kids is a great way to relax and have fun. You can do the serious stuff for fitness or have fun in wave pools, on slides, or a mixture of both. On holiday, when the weather is warmer, it's great being in outdoor pools, but people forget swimming is an all year round activity.

  • How did you motivate Rebecca to swim?

I didn't need to motivate Becky – she has always driven herself and us! She genuinely loves the sport.

  • How did you motivate yourself on dark, cold mornings to get out of bed and take Rebecca to the pool?

That’s always been the hard part as I’m not a morning person. Getting up at 4.30am to drive 20 miles to the pool in the middle of winter was hard, but Becky would always be up and ready to go, so I didn’t have an option! Her commitment made it easier for me.

  • Did you and your husband share the responsibility of taking Rebecca swimming?

Steve has been the MD of his engineering company since 1981 so it was difficult for him to do the Monday to Friday sessions. He usually took her to the Saturday morning training session from 7am – 9am.

  • What was it like seeing Rebecca compete in the 2012 Olympics?

Seeing Becky compete in London was both sad and amazing. Sad, because her goal of competing in the London games had materialised, seemingly so quickly, since Beijing. Amazing, because it was quite simply the most awesome experience. The crowds, games makers, athletes, everyone involved made it such a special memory. We were so proud of her achievements and the way she conducted herself.

  • What were your favourite/most recommended training aids you used to help Becky learn to swim?

Becky loves using her fins (flippers). She decided at a very young age (three) that her and water wings didn't go together, so she would use a woggle. She has always used a kick-board, fins, finger paddles and very often a snorkel and mask.

  • What advice would you give to mums who'd like to get their kids involved with swimming?

My advice to mums is be prepared; if the child really wants to commit and you can provide that much needed back up, enjoy it, but try to keep a reasonable distance from them sometimes to give them some space. Oh, and don’t try to become the coach! We had 120% trust in the relationship between Becky and her coach, Bill.

This left us to concentrate on doing the parent role i.e. homework, friends and a home-life balance. I think that being able to step back from some aspects of Becky’s swimming helped her to develop into a more balanced athlete.

Ultimately just have fun and enjoy the journey – ours has been simply mind-blowing and a great privilege to have played a small part in Becky's.

Kay and Steve Adlington
                                                                                                                                      Kay and Steve Adlington

Last updated: over 3 years ago