Hi Rebecca! At what age did you start swimming and what kept you so interested in swimming?
Age 3 or 4 and it was going with my two sisters that kept me interested as it was fun to spend time with them and I was inspired by them to continue.
Were you encouraged by your family to pursue swimming as a sport/career or was it just a hobby at first?
Hobby at first – I was learning a life skill and then I realised this was my interest and I enjoyed it and wanted to pursue it professionally.
Why do you think it’s so important for children to know how to swim?
It is a life skill so it is so important and it is also a great tool fitness and well being. Also, it is a great and for rehab or when you are returning to exercise after time off from exercise or from having a baby.
What’s your advice to families who have lack of time/finances to go swimming?
Make time and block time out of your day for it.
What would you say to children who are afraid to get in the water – any motivational tips?
Have somebody who is a role model or inspiration to go with you. You need to feel comfortable with them and trust them to encourage to trust yourself with them in the water and, most importantly, to enjoy it.
Looking back to the Beijing Olympics – how did it feel to win gold at such a young age?
Simply amazing and I didn’t expect to at all. It was an incredible experience.
What was it like taking part in the Olympics on home turf this year?
The home crowd was unbelievable and none of the team GB athlete expected the overwhelming support.
And you were the poster girl for swimming this Olympics – did that add extra pressure on you and how did you cope?
There was always going to be pressure at a home Olympics but then we wouldn’t have also had the support we had, so it was great support as well as being extra pressue and we just didn’t let it get to us.
Are you still swimming? Will you be competing in Rio 2016?
I am having a well earned break at the moment! We will see what happens.
A lot of schools don’t have swimming facilities yet it’s so important that youngsters continue the Olympic legacy – can you give us your top tips on how to get kids engaged with swimming?
They should engage with swimming through the Speedo ‘S Factor’ competition – this is why the competition is being launched so that kids see swimming as a fun and enjoyable activity and one that isn’t daunting.
Hi Kay! When did you realise that Rebecca had a special talent in swimming?
Aged 14 at her first international junior competition.
As a parent, what did you do to help and encourage your daughter to keep swimming and pursue the sport?
The whole family always supported her and I took her to all the events and lessons. As it was Becky’s choice to go to lessons and events there wasn’t much we needed to do except drive her there. She always had her swimming kit packed and ready to go.
To parents who have a busy lifestyle or who may not be able to afford swimming club memberships or training for their children, how can they make the most out of swimming?
Make sure kids always enjoy it and don’t use a lack of time as an excuse – make time like you would make time for any other essential life skill. Book a block of pre-paid lessons at a council pool so there is less chance of swimming being displaced for something else if you have a set time each week that you need to stick to and you don’t want to waste money by not attending the lessons.
Being a parent you have first-hand experience at how much joy and success swimming has brought to your daughter. Other than professional pursuit, why do you think it’s so important for children to know how to swim?
It is an essential life skill but it is also something kids really enjoy - particularly on holiday. It also gives great discipline and teamwork and the social benefits are also there as well as the health benefits.
More importantly, what’s your advice to parents who may believe that swimming is not an essential life skill to learn?
Realise that it can save a child’s life. It will keep your child alive. There are so many areas of water around the UK, which could be a risk for your child if they do not know how to swim.
Would you agree that it is the parent’s responsibility to make sure there child learns to swim?
The majority of responsibility should definitely be with the parents but it would be good to see more involvement from the schools and government support too.
How did it feel as a parent seeing your daughter on the podium getting a medal at the Olympics?
Amazing and very proud. Particularly as I knew the medal was in something that Becky thoroughly enjoys.