A swimmer who added a Tokyo Paralympic silver medal to the one she won at the 2016 Rio Games learned to swim at Droitwich Leisure Centre.
Rebecca Redfern, who is visually impaired, touched home second in the SB13 100m breaststroke on the morning of September 1, 2021, nine hours after winning her heat.
Speaking after the race, she said: “It’s the fastest I’ve been since Rio, so to come back and do that after having a baby (see below) has kind of blown my mind a little bit.”
Back in 2016, Rebecca set a world record in qualifying for the Rio Paralympics, aged just 16. She finished second in the final, despite swimming over two seconds inside her record.
Three years later Rebecca claimed top spot on the podium at the World Para Swimming Championships in London. She recalled: ”That was the most amazing experience, with a home crowd and my family there… and hear the national anthem on the podium.”
Rebecca soon discovered she was in the early stages of pregnancy when she struck gold, and with the Tokyo Paralympics under a year away she didn’t think she’d be able to compete.
”We had 10 months to prepare for Tokyo after the worlds but then Covid hit, training stopped and pools were closed,” she said. ”But in a way that kind of worked for me in my personal life because I was pregnant. The Games had been postponed and it felt like fate in a way for me.”
Rebecca, who gave birth to son Patrick in July 2020, added: ”We needed to find a way to be creative with my training so we hired a swim spa for the garden that was craned over the house. You’re held on at the back and you have waves pushing you from the front, so you just keep going in the same spot.”
According to Wikipedia, when Rebecca was seven she was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition known as retinitis pigmentosa, and now has grossly impaired visual fields with no peripheral vision and poor frontal vision.
She learned to swim, aged five, at Droitwich Leisure Centre and joined Droitwich Dolphins Swimming Club when she was eight, before being coached in Worcester. She attended sixth form at Droitwich Spa High School.
Remarkably, she was the second former Droitwich Dolphins swimmer to medal in 2021 after teenager Matt Richards won Olympic gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay (see ‘Sport’).
You can see Rebecca talking about her preparations for Tokyo below. It includes and an amazing picture of the swim spa being lifted over her Droitwich house.