FOR all she has achieved in the pool, double world champion and British teammate Liam Tancock believes the biggest accomplishment of Rebecca Adlington’s career has come out of it.
Adlington was once again the star performer of a British swimming team that otherwise under-delivered at the London 2012 Olympics winning two of the three medals garnered at the Games.
And, while they weren’t quite the two gold medals she won at Beijing 2008, her bronzes in the same 400m and 800m freestyle events saw her become Britain’s greatest-ever swimmer.
Adlington, who has also won six world, three European and four Commonwealth medals, won’t swim at Rio 2016 and is yet to make a decision on attending the next edition of the latter in 2014.
Reigning double world 50m backstroke champion Tancock can’t offer an insight into what’s next either but he feels the impact of her success has been just as good, if not better, than the level of it.
“What Becky has done for the sport in Britain has been fantastic,” said Tancock – who helped celebrate the successful applicants of the 2012 Gillette ‘Great Starts’ grants last week alongside Sir Chris Hoy.
“I genuinely don’t know what she is going to do but she has been fantastic for the sport and helped build the programme so no matter what happens then her legacy lives on.
“And maybe that is her greatest achievement, out of the pool, as strange as that sounds – she has built the profile of the sport.
“The wider public actually know swimming now rather than just doing it a lower level. She has inspired people to get into the pool and that is fantastic.”
Adlington has already publicly stated a desire to be a mentor for the younger generation of swimmers she has largely been responsible for getting into the pool in the first place.
She’s currently on holiday and will take part in a 450km charity bike ride across Zambia in October and so certainly has no plans to return to the pool anytime soon.
And, whatever happens, Tancock, who has swam internationally for Britain for seven years, admits it has been a pleasure to witness Adlington’s successes firsthand.
“Four medals at the Olympics, two golds and two bronzes, is pretty special,” he added. “And to say that I have been a part of that journey with her has been fantastic.”
The 2012 Gillette ‘Great Starts’ campaign celebrates community coaches and inspires the next generation of coaches by providing them with grants to fund their next level qualifications.