Rebecca Redfern is swimming for something bigger than herself this summer

·3-min read
Rebecca Redfern at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (REUTERS)

There is a one-year-old reason why para swimming supermum Rebecca Redfern will cherish this summer’s Commonwealth Games more than most.

A year after giving birth to son Patrick, the Droitwich star completed a remarkable return to the sport last summer with a second Paralympic silver medal.

Paralympic postponement played into Redfern’s hands and now another golden chance has landed on her lap in the shape of a home Games in her own backyard.

It will mark the first time that Patrick has been able to watch his mum swim and that in itself takes care of Redfern’s motivation.

“It blows my mind that I will be competing at a Commonwealth Games half an hour from my house,” said the 22-year-old.

“It’s going to be special to have my family and friends supporting me and also for Patrick because he’s only ever seen me on TV.

“(Having Patrick) has made me realise that it is not just for me anymore, I don’t compete and swim just for me.

“I do it for my family, all the kids and adults that are inspired by my performance. It’s not an individual event anymore, it’s for everyone else.

“This has made me a better athlete because I am not focused on the little things anymore and I don’t overthink things and this allows me to train and race better.”

This summer Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise over 400 athletes. Having secured her place on the squad, Redfern is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in her home country.

Birmingham 2022 marks the first time that visually impaired classifications will feature in the para-swimming programme at the Games.

Reigning world champion Redfern is one of the leading lights in 100m breaststroke and has medalled over that distance at every major Championship.

The West Midlands ace brought up Patrick during Covid lockdowns, all while continuing training in a hot tub in her back garden and finishing a degree at Worcester University.

“It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind,” she said. “When I found out I was pregnant, I did not think that I would be swimming again and I thought that my career was over at that point.

“But through the encouragement of all my coaches, I started to train again and they were really supportive throughout the lockdown.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason and when the Paralympics were postponed, that was the sign encouraging me to get training again.

“This gave me just enough time to qualify for 2021 which was amazing and then to bring back a silver medal again was incredibly special.”

The Commonwealth Games will be the biggest multi-sporting event on British soil since London 2012 and marks the return of global Games with full capacity venues.

With the Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Redfern hopes sharing her story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

She is relishing the prospect of racing under the Team England banner with raucous home backing at Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

“I didn't realise how much a crowd can affect your mentality,” she said. “Tokyo showed me that crowds can change how you’re feeling.

“To have crowds back for the Commonwealth Games will be amazing in Birmingham and given that it’s a home Games, everyone will automatically be behind me as I’m representing England!

“It increases my confidence because having such a crowd behind you can be the extra boost needed to win an event.”

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