OLYMPIC hero Rebecca Adlington cheered on schoolchildren as they made a splash at a Bolton swimming gala.

Rebecca was at the the Bolton schools’ swimming gala at Total Fitness in Waters Meeting Road today watching 262 children from 33 schools take part in the event.

She is aiming to improve swimming ability for children across the UK and said she is keen to encourage young people to participate in the sport.

“It is always great to see young people getting so involved,” she said.

“A lot of times when you put on a swimming gala, not many schools come to the event.

“That they have thirty-plus schools and more than 260 kids taking part is amazing.”

The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) last year announced that 45 per cent of children leave primary school unable to swim.

But the gala’s high attendance and the children’s enthusiasm filled Rebecca with confidence that it may be possible to reduce that figure.

Rebecca, who is Britain’s joint most-decorated female Olympian, alongside Katherine Grainger, launched the Swim Stars programme after her retirement from competitive swimming in 2013, vowing to get all children able to swim 25 metres by the time they left primary school.

She won gold medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

“It really is a difficult challenge, but it is important because swimming is a life skill,” she said.

“It is amazing to see them getting so involved and starting so early.”

Reception teacher and PE co-ordinator Krystyna Forster, from Bowness Primary School in Little Lever, hopes the event will inspire the children to carry on with the sport.

“I think she is a great role model for them. Her being here gives them more excitement,” she said.

“They had a great time. Hopefully after today they will get even more involved.”

Club attendant Lorraine Morris, from Total Fitness, praised the hard work of the children and teachers involved.

“We are dedicated to getting children in here, learning how to swim,” she said.

“They have worked really hard. We are really proud of them and of the club.”