Young people who take an interest in swimming often look up to competitive athletes for inspiration. In England, the students at the Northampton School for Boys, as well as the pool management staff, got a thrill in November when British Olympic gold medal swimmer Rebecca Adlington appeared at a ceremony to open the Edward Cripps Human Performance Centre. The athletic facility includes both a swimming pool and a dance studio, as reported by the Northampton Chronicle & Echo.
The family for whom the facility is named paid £4 million, or more than $6.2 million, to build the site. The pool itself, which required 18 months of construction, is six lanes and spans 25 meters. It will include water polo equipment and is likely to be designated a regional center of excellence.
“Hopefully the new fitness suite will inspire hundreds of pupils to get fitter,” Mark Lee, school development director, told the news source. “For Rebecca Adlington to come an open the pool shows how highly regarded the school is and hopefully she will be seen as an inspiration to all our pupils.”
‘My journey is not finished yet’
Adlington is the most decorated competitive swimmer in the history of Great Britain. She began competing in domestic events in 2004, then started appearing in international events in 2006, She raced in the European Championships, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Olympic Games. During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she won gold in both the 400-meter freestyle and 800-meter freestyle. During the 2012 Olympics in London, she took home bronze for the same events.
She currently holds the world record for the 800-meter freestyle. In February 2013, she announced her retirement from international competition.
“I’m very proud of what I have achieved so far, but my journey is not finished yet,” Adlington wrote on her official website. “My vision is that every child in Britain will be able to swim 25 meters by the time they leave primary school.”
She added that swimming is an important life skill. Through her Becky Adlington’s SwimStars initiative, which has been running for two years, she is bringing swim classes to public centers, schools and hotel pools around Great Britain. She describes this current chapter in her life as her greatest challenge.
Outside of swimming, Adlington is also an advocate for the Encephalitis Society.