March Swimming Times: Maid in Britain

19th February 2013

She’s the top swimmer in Britain today but she happens to be Lithuanian. Roger Guttridge meets 15-year-old Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte and her coach Jon Rudd – and asks what sets her apart from other swimmers.

The two books she clutched as she arrived for the interview in her coach’s office at Plymouth College summed up the parallel worlds that Ruta Meilutyte now inhabits.

It occured to me that this remarkable young lady is already on the road to greatness...

One was by the greatest writer the world has known, the other by the greatest swimmer of all time.

‘I’ve just come from English and we’re doing this for GCSE,’ she said, holding up The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

The other volume was No Limits by Michael Phelps, recently given to her by Lindsay Dunn, her strength and conditioning coach at Plymouth Leander.

It occurred to me that this remarkable young lady – an Olympic champion and a double world champion at 15 – is already on the road to greatness herself. And when you meet her, you begin to understand why.

At 1am on July 31, 2012, as she devoured her first McDonald’s for months just hours after winning the women’s 100m breaststroke gold medal in the Olympic Games, she told Jon Rudd: ‘You know this is only the first one, don’t you?’

The head coach of Plymouth Leander replied: ‘That’s really good to know.’

Seven months on, Rudd describes the qualities that set Ruta apart from other swimmers.

‘She has a very different attitude to many of the British swimmers I have coached in the past,’ he says.

‘But there again I coach athletes from 22 nations and I wouldn’t say it’s a non-British quality. I would say it’s a Ruta quality.'

Further Reading

  • Read the rest of this feature as well as loads of aquatics-related articles and news in this month's Swimming Times magazine - CLICK HERE to find out more about subscriptions.
  • Ruta is one of a number of world class swimmers competing at the British Gas International Swimming Meet in Leeds next month - CLICK HERE to find out more about the event including information about live streaming and our VIP ticket competition.
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