How to teach your child to swim, with Becky Adlington

Swimming tips, advice and memories from the Olympic gold medallist

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

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.

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!


The Hilton London Syon Park has partnered with Swim Stars, running classes run three times per week. For more information, visit or to find your nearest Swim Stars class, visit