She’s one of the most successful athletes in British Olympic history, but Rebecca Adlington has found life out of the pool even more rewarding since hanging up her goggles nearly ten years ago.

Adlington, who shot to fame at Beijing 2008 when she claimed gold in the 400m and 800m freestyle – becoming the first British swimmer to win two Olympic golds since 1908 – set up her Swim Stars initiative shortly after London 2012 after feeling “inspired” by the magic of that summer in the English capital where she won a further two bronze medals.

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The VSI CEO of a Sports Organisation delegate told UCFB: “London just inspired me so much, and being at that Olympics and talking about legacy and inspiring a generation, I knew I wanted to set up my own learn to swim programme because that’s something which I am so passionate about – the grassroots side of sport rather than the elite side.”

Ever since Adlington has been director of the company, and she admits the transition from athlete to business has been “easy” compared to other athletes she knows.

Adlington said: “To be honest I’ve found it really easy compared to other athletes I’ve spoken to; I kind of feel bad for saying that and feel like I probably should have found it a lot harder. At the start it was very difficult because it was so new, I did feel very lost without my coach and without the structure of being in sport. But then I was involved in something that was massively rewarding – I get to all these venues seeing these little kids overcome their fear and jump into the water.”

She added: “Seeing them learn a life skill is so rewarding and it has been such an amazing journey for me to be a part of that.”

But how does it compare to representing your country and winning gold at the Olympic Games?

“To be honest probably more rewarding than the Olympic medals,” she admits. “I was in this very selfish bubble as an athlete, whereas now I get to do something that is so rewarding and is helping people because it’s a life skill as well.”

Adlington finished: “I was with like-minded people as an athlete, and we all wanted to achieve that Olympic success, whereas now I go to the office and we all want to see learn to swim change. I feel incredibly fortunate to be honest.”