How to teach your child to swim with Becky Adlington

Swimming tips, advice and memories from the Olympic gold medallist Becky Adlington and her Swim Stars Swimming programme for children

Photo taken in Antibes, France

Rebecca Adlington OBE is a 32 year old British former competitive swimmer who specialised in freestyle events in international competition. She won two gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the 400-metre freestyle and 800-metre freestyle, breaking the 19-year-old world record of Janet Evans in the 800-metre final. Adlington has a 6 year old daughter and in March 2021 announced the birth of a son, with boyfriend Andy Parsons.

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Becky Adlington’s Swim Stars (and Baby Stars) is a baby and childs swimming programme written by Becky Adlington, with Alan Rapley and Linda Freeman (who are two of the most experienced and respected experts in teaching children to swim). All Swim Stars teachers who go through additional training, over and above their ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) coaching qualifications, to enable them to teach children how to swim ‘The Becky Way’ – which ‘is to have no child leave primary school unable to swim 25 metres.’   

Swimming is an important life skill that I believe every child should have the opportunity to learn and love. My vision for SwimStars is to change the way children learn to swim, through fun, rewarding lessons. Our programme is delivered by experienced, enthusiastic teachers and rewards values such as respect, friendship, determination, excellence and courage, alongside our bespoke SwimStars programme and badge system.
Becky Adlington, Olympic gold medallist
How to teach your child to swim, with Becky Adlington

JUNIOR MEETS: Becky Adlington to discuss teaching your child to swim, SwimStars and her swimming memories

What are your memories of learning to swim?
Swimming has always been a huge part of my life. I have two sisters who were both keen swimmers and we used to swim together. Quite often at the weekend we would visit the local swimming pool and on family holidays we used to head to the beach and swim. It was always great fun!

What advice would you give to parents who want to help their child take up swimming?
It is really important to get your child swimming as early as possible. Whether you take them to your local swimming pool, book them into swimming classes, or splash about in the sea whilst on holiday the most important thing is to keep it fun.

How might you encourage a child who is nervous around water?
Firstly, always make it fun and be prepared with lots of ideas of different games and songs. Make sure you are ready to join in and play in the water. Start off by sitting on the side of the pool and bring some water toys or small balls near to your child so that they can get their imagination flowing. Make a regular visit to your local pool and enquire about any adult and child lessons or ‘swim a song’ sessions  that you could joint in with once your child is ready. This will really help to improve your child’s confidence, improve their health and fitness and develop their technique with breathing and strokes.

Can you recommend any fun swimming games that children and parents can play together?
Children love playing games in the water. One of my favourites to teach is treasure hunts and simple races as it really stimulates the child’s imagination. Use floats and motorboats to keep it fun and encourage your child to run and glide in the water – it’s perfect for developing their confidence.

With Swim Stars, you aim for every child to be able to swim 25m by the time they leave primary school – why is this so important?
My mission is to change people’s lives through the vital life skill of being able to swim. It’s a bit like riding a bike – everyone should know how to do it. Swim Stars is aiming to teach 30,000 youngers a year how to swim. For me this is my greatest legacy to date.

How to teach your child to swim, with Becky Adlington
Becky Adlington Swim Stars

What’s your happiest childhood memory in the water?
Being on holiday with all my family – in the pool!

Were you competitive as a child?
I have always had a competitive streak to me, I competed against my sisters and school friends as a child. As I grew older I got more and more competitive – you have to be to get to the top of your game.

If you weren’t an Olympic swimmer, what do you think you would be doing now?
All I have ever wanted to do is be a swimmer!

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>> To find your nearest Swim Stars class, visit beckyadlingtonsswimstars.com

(Model Picts: Olga Alekseeva / Getty Images)