DOUBLE Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington is adamant that Hucknall Leisure Centre has a vital role to play in unearthing the next crop of world-class British international swimming talent.
Mansfield glory-girl Adlington is lending her support to British Swimming’s Big Splash campaign — ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.
And the pool at Hucknall Leisure Centre, off Linby Road, is one of more than 1,000 pools across the UK getting involved.
Like many swimmers in the British team, the freestyle specialist started off in the sport at her local pool with Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club before winning double gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
She took the 400m and 800m titles in Beijing and smashed the 19-year-old world record of Janet Evans in the 800m final. She became Britain’s first Olympic swimming champion since 1988 and the first British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals since 1908.
“My journey towards becoming Olympic champion started by going down to my local pool with my sisters,” said Adlington (22), whose next big tournament is the British Gas Swimming Championships in March.
“When I first started swimming, it was just to spend time with my sisters and friends and enjoy myself. As I got older, the focus shifted to improving my fitness and technique.
“The Big Splash could be how the next generation of British Olympians get into the sport. But the scheme is about even more than that — it’s about people having a go.
“Local clubs and pools, such as the one at Hucknall, are the heartbeat of swimming in this country.
“I’m fully behind any scheme that encourages people of all ages to get involved and have a go.”
Swimming for 30 minutes once a week burns up to 350 calories and tones your body. So whatever the personal aim might be, Adlington insists little steps can have a large impact.
“I just love being in the water, so it would be great if more people could get involved, even for just 30 minutes a week,” she added.
“I just loved swimming and the fact that there are now 1,200 Big Splash pools across the country, offering taster sessions and special offers, is great.”
Adlington is one of Britain’s leading medal hopes at the 2012 Olympics — especially after another fine performance at the world championships in Shanghai, China earlier this year when she landed a gold and silver.
THIS article has been produced in conjunction with British Swimming’s Big Splash campaign, which is supported by principal partner British Gas and supporting partners Kellogg’s and Speedo. For more information on great swimming activities and offers, visit www.bigsplash.co.uk