Competitive pupils at the new Dearne ALC were presented with an unusual addition to their trophy cabinet this week – double Olympic gold medalist swimmer Rebecca Adlington!
The Goldthorpe school “won” Rebecca, the fastest female 800m freestyle swimmer in the world – after mounting a fierce voting campaign in a competition to claim her for the day.
Desperately keen for her to visit, staff and pupils voted in their thousands in the online contest run by Speedo and JJB Sports – and outbid every other competing school in the country to win.
And as part of the prize – they could do almost anything they liked with her – including interrogating her about her love life!
The Mansfield-born swimmer arrived last Wednesday to the delight of pupils who were only too keen to probe her on her adventures as a world champion.
After a quick tour of the school and a bounce on the new trampoline, the 21-year-old spent 20 minutes under questioning by Year 9 pupils.
They grilled her on everything from her own school days to the feeling of winning Olympic gold, to her ultimate ambition – to appear on Strictly Come Dancing!
Sitting facing her enraptured young audience, she told them about how she learned to swim – claiming she was “rubbish” in swimming races until she was about 13.
Asked if she had ever been bullied at school, she said she never had.
“Everyone was really supportive at school – especially when I started taking part in overseas competitions,” Rebecca said.
Telling students what it feels like to win Olympic gold, she said: “It’s an amazing feeling, especially when you work so hard and I’ve been working for this since I was 12-years-old, spending 20 hours a week in the pool.”
One student asked her if there were any other perks to winning Olympic gold.
Laughing, she said: “I think winning a gold medal and knowing you’re the very best in the world is enough.”
And the best bit about being famous?
“I don’t really see myself as a celebrity. But I love meeting other really famous people and getting my photo taken with as many of them as possible.
“I still get really starstruck when I meet some of them.”
Asked about her ambitions, she said she would love to appear on Strictly Come Dancing, as well as winning Gold at the 2012 Olympics.
And does she have a boyfriend at the minute?
“No, and I don’t really have time for one,” she smiled.
Interrogation over, Rebecca had lunch from the school canteen before starting a quick swimming coaching session with the school’s top swimmers.
Asked by the Times what it felt like to be a school prize, she said: “It’s a little bit weird, but the school is amazing – it’s so unlike any school I’ve seen.
“And everyone has been lovely and treated me very well.”