How did it feel to qualify for London 2012?
Oh, so much relief, happiness, excitement; it’s just an amazing feeling. I started crying because it’s been four years of training, not just since September from Shanghai [World Championships], and it’s obviously the biggest thing everyone is going to experience. The younger guys have got the next Olympics, but London’s always been my target and finally knowing that I’m going is just the best feeling in the world.
What is the hardest part of your training, particularly coming into the Olympic year?
My training schedule hasn’t changed at all really in the final year leading up to the Olympics. Swimming isn’t the type of sport where you can start to focus fully on it in the last 12 months and hope to be successful; it requires many years of training and commitment to be successful.
How much training do you do in the gym?
Being a distance swimmer, the majority of my work is done in the pool. I tend to do two to three land-based sessions a week, which are primarily bodyweight based.
How do you ensure that you peak for the Olympics?
I have been working with my coach Bill Furniss for over a decade now. I leave the planning of my preparation/taper to him; I trust him fully as he knows me better than anyone.
You qualified for the 400m before the 800m. Did this take the pressure off the 800m?
No, I was more nervous! I think it’s because this event means so much to me. The 800m is always the one I want to do well at and the one I’ve always loved racing more than anything else, so for me it was just more important to get in and enjoy it. I was so nervous I had to speak to our psychologist before the race and he just said, “Man up Becca!” And I was like, “OK!”
How did it feel to be so far ahead of the field as you were in Beijing?
It was excruciating. It’s so hard when you get out on your own. Mentally, all you can think about is the pain because you’ve got no one to focus on next to you; but I just wanted to keep pushing myself, get a good time and try and focus on that.
Did you realise how fast you were swimming at the time?
No, not at all. You don’t really have any idea because you don’t know how fast the other girls are going behind you, so it is a very different experience. I’m pleased with the time and to improve is definitely the right step forward. As athletes, we’re always trying to find ways to improve and I’ve been on the same time for the last couple of years. Hopefully, in the next four months of training I can step that up again ready for the Games.
Were you sending out a message to the rest of the world that you are serious about defending your title?
I don’t really think about other people. I want to concentrate on my own race and I wasn’t doing that for anyone else but myself. I wanted to put in a good performance and swim what I know I can swim and what I’m capable of. I know the other girls are going to be fast and everybody’s working hard; it’s Olympic year so everyone wants to do well.
Do you think a successful Olympics will lead to increased participation at grassroots level?
The Olympics and Paralympics will be great spectacles and events for everyone in Great Britain. I’m sure they will inspire people to take up sport and increase grassroots participation.
800m freestyle Olympic champion and world record holder: Beijing 2008
400m freestyle Olympic champion: Beijing 2008
800m freestyle Commonwealth champion: Delhi 2010
400m freestyle Commonwealth champion: Delhi 2010
800m freestyle world champion: Shanghai 2011
This feature was first printed in the June/July 2012 issue of Fitpro Network magazine.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.
Rebecca Adlington is a Speedo ambassador. For more information head to www.speedo.co.uk