Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Adlington given honorary degree

The swimmer received a Master of Arts degree

Double Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Adlington has become one of the youngest-ever recipients of an honorary degree from University of Nottingham.

The 20-year-old won gold in the swimming pool in Beijing in the 800m and 400m freestyle events.

She received a Master of Arts degree at the university's winter graduation ceremony in Nottingham earlier.

The honorary degree recognises the Mansfield swimmer's exceptional contribution to sport.

It follows an OBE in the 2009 New Year's Honours.

'Marvellous ambassador'

When she won her medals, she became the UK's first female Olympic swimming champion in 48 years.

Miss Adlington came third in the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year contest in December, which was won by Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy.

She learned to swim at the age of four, and by 10 she had joined Nova Centurion swimming club, which uses the University of Nottingham pool for training.

At Nova Centurion she was spotted by coach Bill Furniss, who remains her coach to this day.

She competed internationally for the first time in 2003, representing Team GB at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Paris and winning silver medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle events.

Councillors in her hometown of Mansfield have already honoured the swimming star by naming a swimming baths - where she learned to swim - after her.

The former Sherwood Baths in Mansfield Woodhouse is now known as the Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre.

Mansfield Mayor Tony Egginton has said Adlington is "a marvellous ambassador for the district".

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