Lifestyle & Travel

Published on November 14th, 2013 | by Parenting Solo


I’m a Celebrity star and olympic swimmer Becky Adlington talks kids and sport

Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington is about to grace our screens in I’m a Celebrity but before she headed out to Oz and those bush tucker trials, she spoke to us about how we can encourage our children – and motivate ourselves – to take up sport.

We told Becky that it can sometimes be difficult for single parents to get involved in sport with their children for myriad reasons: time, money, childcare for other siblings, and of course, only having one pair of hands to get everything organised or to supervise on the day! Becky said this is why swimming is such a family-friendly sport – one everyone can participate in, from the parent, the youngest of babies (post jabs of course) through to teenagers. Read on for her top tips to get the entire family to take the plunge!

It can be really hard for parents – especially lone parents – to commit to getting their kids to clubs outside of school and work – any advice?

Getting your kids active is one of the most important things you can do. It’s key for parents to get organised and book a regular slot in your diary once or twice a week to spend time together and play sport. Find an activity that you all like doing together or perhaps even book into a regular class. This year I have launched a new swim school that offers accessible swimming classes for children across the country and is the perfect way to get your children into swimming.

What age do you think parents should start swimming with their kids?

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. As long as it’s fun then it’s never too soon to get into the pool!

Sometimes single parents can feel awkward doing very ‘family’ orientated classes – would you say swimming is great for kids AND their parents to make new friends?

Sport is a fantastic way to make new friends both for the child and parent. Make a regular visit to your local pool and enquire about any adult and child lessons or ‘swim a song’ sessions that you could join 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. It will also be a fantastic opportunity for you to meet likeminded parents and create new friendships.

Children can sometimes take some persuading to come out from behind their electronic devices and get active – how would you approach that?

This really is down to the parents! Take the electronic device away for an afternoon and head to your local swimming pool instead! Go prepared with lots of ideas of different games and songs that you can play with your children. It’s a good idea to bring some water toys or small balls to the pool so that they can get their imagination flowing.

Was swimming a real family event for you throughout your childhood?

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!

If you had not had swimming in your life from an early age, what might you have done instead?

All I have ever wanted to do is be a swimmer!

Do you think swimming is one of the more affordable hobbies for families?

Swimming is both incredibly accessible and affordable for families. There is a fantastic network of swimming both in schools, clubs and public pools up and down the country.

The national curriculum dictates that pupils should be able to swim unaided for a distance of at least 25 meters by the age of 11 – do you think this is enough? Should schools be doing more?

My mission is to get every child to be able to swim 25m by the time they leave primary school. I want to be able 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. Becky Adlington’s Swim Stars is aiming to teach 30,000 youngsters a year how to swim. I see this as my biggest challenge in swimming to date and for me this is my greatest legacy to date.

How do you keep children focused on sport once they enter their teens?

If you want to succeed in something it is always important to keep focused. If you keep it fun and enjoyable, kids will be more inclined to continue to play sport as they grow older. Keep training interesting and think of new and exciting ways to improve their skills. Adding an element of competition sometimes helps as well!

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Parenting Solo

is an online resource for lone parents, offering news, debate, features and expert opinion. It is edited by journalist and broadcaster Kelly Rose Bradford.

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