Golden girl Adlington prepares to defend titles
Rebecca Adlington made history four years ago in Beijing, becoming Britain's first Olympic swimming champion since 1988 and the first Briton to win two gold medals at a single Olympics in 100 years. As a result, the 23-year-old is one of the poster girls of London 2012 and she spoke to Orange about her bid to defend her two titles, the 400m and 800m freestyle.
How does it feel to have qualified for this summer's Olympics?
Happy first and foremost but after I qualified I felt so tired mentally and physically. There's so much energy and not just from your own competitions but also from watching your team-mates and friends compete.
How did you celebrate your Games qualification?
Well, I had a few media commitments to do first and then had a few days off, slept, relaxed and caught up with my family.
You made qualification look very easy but I guess it wasn't, and you looked incredibly nervous before your 800m freestyle final in particular...
It's just that until you actually get in the water you're never entirely sure how you're going to swim. Anything can happen, which is exactly what we saw in some of the qualifying events. You realise how easy it is for people to not make the team as much as make it. I didn't want to be one of those people that misses out so I tried my hardest. I really couldn't have given any more.
Do the nerves get any easier?
People often assume they get easier or lesser but not at all. I still get really nervous before a race. I think it's good I get nervous as it shows how much I want it. I still love the sport so I'm nervous every time I take the blocks.
Who was the stand-out performer at the trials and the Brit most likely to make their mark at the Games?
I'd have to go with Hannah Miley - she definitely impressed me the most. She had an incredible week and did so many events. She is just such a tough competitor and she certainly didn't surprise me. I always expected her to make it to the Olympics and be amazing. I was also impressed by our relay boys in the freestyle.
Your pace has looked good at the trials. Is there more to come?
I had nothing more to give in either the 400m or 800m freestyle - I left everything I had in that pool. But I still think I can get quicker. The times I did have certainly helped my confidence but hopefully I can improve going into the Games.
Who do you see as your main rivals for the gold?
It's not quite as simple as that. At the last Olympics, I don't think a lot of people would have tipped me to win two golds so there are always people that come out of the woodwork. That's what makes this sport so interesting - there are so many up and coming girls.
What about the British squad. Is it the best we've ever had?
Yes, it's definitely the best squad we've ever had, and it's just growing stronger and stronger. It's not just one or two swimming well but strength in depth throughout the whole squad, and most of our swimmers are right up there in the world rankings.
So are teams properly taking notice of Britain as a team?
Definitely. When I first swam for Britain, the Americans and Australians would be like 'oh, there's little old Britain'. But now we're right up there in so many events.
When you're swimming what do you think about - the race, what you're having for dinner, something else?
There's so much going on that you don't have time to think outside the race. You have to count your strokes the whole time and remember your turns. You also spend a lot of time being aware of other people around you and trying to push yourself, so you're concentrating on things the whole time.
The 800m looks like a killer. When does the pain properly kick in and how does it feel?
It's the last 400m really - they're just extremely painful. It's one of those things that you've trained for so you just have to count down smaller sections rather than worry about the fact there's 200m to go. When you get out the pool, you've got complete jelly legs and you're so out of breath. That's why I'm normally no good in the post-race interviews as they grab you straight away when you're still huffing and puffing.