Celeb Health: `I Am Not Going to Grow Old Gracefully' Former Champion Swimmer and Olympic Medallist Sharron Davies Looks Better Than Ever at 41. Here She Reveals How She Keeps Her Fabulous Figure, and Why She's a Big Fan of Plastic Surgery

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Byline: Richard Barber

Sharron Davies won a silver medal swimming for her country in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and broke more than 200 British records in a career spanning two decades.

At 41, her days of competitive swimming may be over, but she's still in astonishing shape. Surprisingly though, you won't find a swimming pool in the grounds of the beautiful converted Cotswolds farmhouse she shares with her husband, British Airways pilot Tony Kingston, 36, and her two children, Elliott, 10, and five-year-old Grace (from her marriage to athlete Derek Redmond).

`My problem with swimming is I started doing it competitively at eight years old,' says Sharron. `Don't get me wrong, though - a swimming pool is still the place I know I can go if I'm feeling really low. It's just I don't use it to keep fit.

`There's also the problem of finding a pool that's both big enough and virtually empty. I can't swim with the general public because I'd swim over most of them. I swim a mile - that's 60 lengths - in a 25-metre pool in about 20 minutes.'

At 5ft 11 and just 10 stone 6lb, Sharron's obviously doing something right to remain so trim. `There's no magic formula,' she says. `The answer is a balanced intake of food mixed with regular exercise. As you get older, though, your metabolism slows down, so you have to work harder to stay in the same place.'

However, Sharron's not above seeking a little extra help. Nearly a decade ago, she had a boob job which increased her cup size from around a 38A to 38C. `Having children left me with saggy boobs. I breast-fed Elliott for three months and everything got stretched, so I had them enlarged. I don't regret it,' she says. `I am pro-plastic surgery if people look into it very carefully. In my opinion, what you do with your own body is your own business and, providing you are doing it for the right reason - that is, for yourself and not someone else - that's great.'

ALL SWUM OUT

Sharron, who will be presenting all the action from the aquatic events in Athens for the BBC's coverage of the Olympics, first gave up swimming competitively at the grand old age of 18. `I was all swum out,' she recalls.

At the time, she was sharing a flat with gymnast Suzanne Dando. `I'd been eating like a horse, but I was doing so much exercise, I never put on weight. When I stopped swimming, I continued to eat like a horse with the result that, within six months, I started looking like one, too. I'd put on three stone. It wasn't until I went back to sensible exercise that I lost the weight.'

It was a lesson well learned. Now, Sharron is scrupulous about maintaining her famous physique. On a regular basis, usually four times a week, she'll do a 30-minute cardiovascular workout.

`I use a fixed bike and I normally pedal away while watching the Ten O'Clock News when the children are tucked up in bed,' she says.

HEALTH SECRETS

When Sharron first bought her Cotswolds property, she had an outhouse converted into a gym.

`I've got a cross-trainer, something between a stepping and running machine, but it's low-impact because your feet never leave the pedals. It cost about pounds 400, which is less than a year's membership to a health club, and it lasts forever. Having said that, as often as not I'll use the bike I've got in my study rather than walk the 20 yards to the gym.'

But she does use the gym for regular sit-ups - 100 at a time - and for exercises to prevent her upper arms getting flabby. `The overall objective, though, is to get the heart and lungs working,' she says.

Sharron confesses to being a grazer, but not a huge eater. `My policy is little and often, but never too late.' She has a slice of toast and a cup of tea for breakfast and no more than a sandwich for lunch. `I have a weakness for biscuits which I tend to nibble throughout the day, but I'm careful and I've trained myself to do things like give the children's leftovers to Scooby, our Basset hound, instead of eating them myself. …