Jazz Carlin believes Rebecca Adlington will have a lasting impact in swimming that will go way beyond her competitive career.
Adlington became the first British woman to win Olympic gold in 48 years at Beijing in 2008 – a feat she achieved in the 400m and 800m freestyle – and the 23-year-old last week announced her retirement from competition.
The Mansfield-born flyer also won two bronze medals at the London Games last year and now plans to head a new programme that will encourage youngsters to take up swimming.
Research conducted by the Amateur Swimming Association last year revealed that a third of children in England cannot swim by the time they leave primary school, a statistic Adlington is keen to address.
And former Wootton Bassett School pupil Carlin, a long-time friend and rival of Adlington’s in various freestyle events, believes the world championship gold medallist will make her new vocation a success.
“Becky is a great ambassador for swimming and I think she’s achieved everything a swimmer can achieve,” said Carlin.
“She’s got a great new Swim Stars programme opening and it’s great that she will still be involved in the sport and encouraging kids.
“Even though she has left the competitive side, she has not left swimming and will still do great things for the sport.
“Like Becky, I think every child in school should be able to swim a length and it’s a great sport to be a part of, even if it’s just casually at grassroots level.
“You can still get so many benefits out of swimming and meet so many people.”
Carlin was back in Wiltshire on Sunday to help play her part in the re-opening the Link Centre pool that has been closed since July.
Carlin and her GB teammate and boyfriend Lewis Coleman led a masterclass for Swindon Tigersharks’ younger members.
The pool was officially opened to the public on Monday and Carlin said: “This is where I grew up and did most of my training.
“It’s really nice to come back and see some fresh faces and see how motivated they all are.”
Meanwhile, Carlin’s training base, Swansea ITC, is to operate on reduced finances until the end of 2013.
British Swimming had its funding slashed by £3.7m after GB won only three medals at London 2012, Stockport, losing its ITC (intensive training centre) status altogether.