ALREADY A two-time reigning champion – for Rebecca Adlington there is a certain irony in the statistics that suggest second and third-time Olympians are more likely to secure a medal.
But the Mansfield ace insists the fact her second Games experience is in the capital, more than makes up for the weight of expectation – and the statistical pressure – that London 2012 is going to throw up.
Of the 33 gold-medals won by British athletes in Beijing, two thirds of the podium-toppers were competing in their second or third Games.
Adlington is the anomaly of all anomalies having won 400 and 800m freestyle gold at her debut Games and as a consequence will have to go some not to fall short of her Beijing heroics from 2008.
However, while recognising the power of a second Games experience, Adlington insists the home crowd factor might just trump any prior knowledge.
“Obviously a second Games will make a difference but I see it as a bit different to a normal second Games,” said Adlington, who launched the British Gas ‘Free Swims for Britain’ campaign, which is giving away swimming sessions to those who sign up online to back our swimmers, as they prepare for the biggest competition of their careers
“I would say if it was a ‘normal’ Olympics in a different country then whether it was second Games or not then it wouldn’t give us so much edge.
“But I think the fact that it’s here it’ll help us even more. Obviously yes it is our second Olympics and we are a lot more experienced and that will help us even if we were going to an Olympics in a different country.
“But I think it will help us even more the fact that it is in our country.”
And while Adlington, who booked her Team GB place in impressive style at the British Gas Swimming Championships at the London Aquatics Centre in March, admits it is all about making home advantage count in the capital later this year – she insists taking it all in features high on the to-do list.
The Mansfield swimmer was a wide-eyed 19-year-old in China four years ago and plans on soaking up the atmosphere in and out of the pool in London.
“When the team met up recently we all sat in groups depending on how many Olympics we had been to whether it was first, second or third,” she added.
“We were all saying how different it is, when it is your second Games. Obviously we are not there yet and we can’t talk about the experience in the village or anything like that yet.
“But it is just like in terms of qualifying everyone more expected us to get there so it was more of a relief.
“I think the first time round there is so much excitement because it is new and you don’t know what to expect.
“And we all said this time around that we want to take a step back and really enjoy and appreciate it.
“I think the first time you are trying to take everything in because it’s so different to any meet you have been to before.
“Hopefully we can take a step back this time and be able to appreciate it and enjoy it.”
PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR – Rebecca Adlington is a British Gas ambassador. British Gas is getting the nation to show its support for the British Swimming Teams and is giving away free swims. Simply visit www.britishgas.co.uk/freeswimming