At six, Britta Steffen was considered too little and too skinny to be considered for the swim team. The German 50m and 100m swimming freestyle world record holder didn’t care about that though, and insisted to her mum that she be allowed to train with everyone who was in the running.
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So mum Ingrid made sure she went. But when push came to shove she found it hard to let go and allow her daughter head to boarding school to hone her swimming talent at age 12.
“My swim teacher told my mum, ‘Britta has the chance to become a very good swimmer. I can’t promise you she’ll win the Olympic Games but if she really puts some effort in, that will be enough to compete internationally’.
“Even as a child I said to my mum, ‘you have to let me go’, because what if I could become a really good swimmer and I never had the chance?”
The first few weeks at boarding school were hard on both but it was her mum’s encouragement that kept Britta at it.
“She would give anything for me to follow my dreams. She said there are ups and downs but you’re always still you. That was a huge motivation for me. I wanted to show my family –I can give my best,” Britta says.“You have to have trust in your child. I am simply thankful for the trust my parents put in me.”
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