She's taken the Gold in the Olympic pool but now she is taking on her biggest competition to date: motherhood. Rebecca Adlington tells Mama how her life as an athlete prepared her for her new role as mum.
Words Gabrielle Hernandez
Rebecca Adlington is a decorated Olympian but her most important venture is that of motherhood. The Olympic swimmer is a mother to two year old Summer. Just like her swim career, life as a mum has posed its own challenges.
“I’ve never really been that maternal. I’ve always loved kids but just was like ‘Aw….okay. Have it back,’” she laughs. “When I got pregnant I had no clue what sort of mother I was going to be. Becoming a mum has totally changed me.”
Adlington says she always imagined herself as the ‘bad cop’ parent, opting for strict structure in her child’s life. As much as she might have prepared herself for the role, that didn’t end up being the case. “I’m so soft with her and I just want to protect her. I am a typical mum, and I absolutely love it. It’s the best thing ever.”
“I didn’t think I would love it as much as I did. I knew I would love her but I kind of thought I would miss having my freedom and independence.” Adlington says that could not be further from how she feels about motherhood. “I actually feel like I am missing my right arm without her. I just love her more and more each day.”
While Adlington initially doubted her motherly instinct, it seems her little one didn’t inherit that gene. “My daughter loves babies, she is very maternal already.” She says her daughter plays mum to her own Baby Annabell doll which is as close to a real infant as you can get. “She really doesn’t like when her baby cries because she thinks the baby is upset. She’s got her own pram and she loves feeding them.”
Adlington has recently teamed up with Zapf Creations to launch their new Baby Annabell Learns to Swim doll. The latest baby doll, a must have for Christmas, comes with her own towel, swimsuit and water wings. When she comes in contact with water, she splashes and is able to float on her back. It is a perfect bath-time and pool companion.
“For Summer, the new Baby Annabell Learns to Swim is heaven,” says Adlington. “She loves blowing up her baby’s arm bands. She’s still in arm bands as well so it makes it much easier to put hers on since the baby has them as well.” Adlington says that from a parent’s perspective it makes the whole pool and bath routine so much easier when they have someone to share the regime with.
The doll also helps to build more confident swimmers. As swimming has long been the basis of Adlington’s life, she stresses the importance of introducing children to the water at a young age. “If you don’t get them in the pool by two or three they start developing a fear,” she says. “At three weeks old we took Summer into the pool. She just loves water now and has so much confidence.”
Just as her daughter has grown confident in her swimming abilities, Adlington feels the same about her approach to parenting.
“There’s a constant worry as to whether you are doing the best thing. There is no one there to hold your hand through it. As an athlete you have someone telling you what you should or shouldn’t be doing. But as a parent it is just you. You don’t get reassurance from anyone else.”
She says she has learned to trust that she knows her child enough to make the best decisions for her. “Now I know her inside and out and what works for her. It is about finding that confidence in knowing your child. There is so much out there about parenting. I do take advice but, at the same time, I have learned to stick to what I think is right in my own path with her.”