We are well underway in our quest for January fitness. For those of you who are considering giving up and going back to your old ways, we thought you might need a little inspiration in the form of our Fitness Heroes series.
Look no further than the darling of the swimming industry, Rebecca Adlington. Despite her early retirement, her impressive achievements and determination make her the ideal role model to inspire you to work hard and jump in the pool.
Why should I emulate this person?
As the most successful female British swimmer of the past century, Rebecca Adlington has made more than a splash in the swimming industry, winning four medals over two Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012.
Not only is she an award-winning athlete, but she is on a mission to share her love of swimming with others. She is determined that every child should leave primary school with the ability to swim and has created Becky’s Adlington’s Swim Stars to get the ball rolling.
What makes Adlington so special?
Adlington's impressive debut shot her to fame at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, as she returned with a gold medal for Britain in the 400m freestyle.
One gold medal wasn’t enough for the champion swimmer, as later in the week she set a world record in the heats of the 800m freestyle, before going on to win in the final two days later. Adlington smashed the previous record of 8:14.12 set by Janet Evans decades ago - when Adlington was just 6 months old - flying in 2 seconds faster.
After her impressive showings at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, she was awarded an OBE by the Queen for her services to sports aged 20. Adlington vowed that she would build on her Olympic efforts, a promise that she blew out of the water when she doubled up with 2 gold and 2 bronze medals at her Commonwealth Games debut at Delhi 2010.
She finished off her career with a bang, by becoming Great Britain's first freestyle world champion with 800m freestyle gold in Shanghai, having already won 400m freestyle silver earlier in the week.
A delighted home crowd at London 2012 witnessed her winning a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle, then repeating the result to win an 800m freestyle bronze during her second Olympic Games.
There is no doubt about it, Adlington is one of the best athletes Great Britain has ever seen. While it is a shame to see such a talented athlete retire from the sport, she is still an inspiration for all of us.
How does she do it?
Of course, racking up Olympic gold medals doesn't come without its fair share of hard work and sacrifices. Swimmers are notorious for their dedication to the sport, with ridiculously early starts, long hours and constant training.
On the Swimming.org website, Rebecca describes her typical training regime as 10 times a week in the pool, with each session lasting for a duration of 2 hours. That’s a tiring 20 hours a week spent in the water, which nearly equates to an entire days’ worth of swimming.
Additionally, Rebecca claims that she also does an hour of land work a day such as running or gym work. It just goes to show that in order to stay on top of your fitness game, you need to mix up your exercise routine.
What’s a swimmer’s secret weapon?
Athletes will try any form of exercise to improve their performance, and it’s not surprising to find that swimmers participate in many dryland activities.
Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps once told Men’s Fitness Magazine that incorporating weights into your training regime is the best way to prepare for a race. Weights build up your strength and enable you to propel yourself through the water at a greater speed. Phelps also claimed that push-ups and pull-ups were essential to his workout.
Australia’s most successful competitive swimmer, Ian “Thorpedo” Thorpe also shared his secrets with Men’s Fitness Magazine. He said regular strength and resistance exercises, such as mountain climbs, ‘The Super Man’ and a one-arm medicine ball throws, boosted his performance in the pool.
Who to watch out for?
Now that Rebecca Adlington has hung up her goggles and towel, which rising superstar can we expect to see making waves in the British swimming industry?
Adam Peaty is an upcoming star, making rapid progress in the pool. Since making his first European Junior Championship team in 2012, he has gone from strength to strength. Peaty became a household name when he won the 100m breaststroke gold for England on his Commonwealth Games debut last year, before taking home four golds at the European Championships in Berlin, breaking the 50m breaststroke world record in the process. He also made the shortlist for the BBC’s 2014 Sports Personality of the Year award.
If you think you could give Adlington, Phelps or Peaty a run for their money, then why not get down to DW Fitness clubs and use our high-quality swimming facilities?