There will be few athletes with more fire in their belly than Mansfield’s Charlotte Henshaw at next month’s IPC Swimming World Championships after a leg infection put paid to her 2014 season.
Henshaw, who claimed silver in the SB6 100m breaststroke at London’s Paralympic Games three years ago, was eyeing up last year’s European Championships as an important milestone on the road to Rio 2016.
But a leg infection derailed her year, with doctors advising her to withdraw just one week before the championships despite her fierce determination to return in time.
Now back fully fit, and with a point to prove, Nova Centurion Henshaw is ready to put a line under a trying 2014.
“It was awful, and it was the first time I’ve ever had to withdraw from a meet due to medical advice,” she said. “It was devastating when you’re geared up to swim against the best in Europe.
“It was an infection in my leg, I wasn’t able to walk and was pretty much bed-bound for six weeks.
“I didn’t have the chance at the Commonwealths due to there not being as many events there, so the Europeans were in its place and to have that taken away from you by illness is hard to take.
“It’s definitely given me that extra bit of motivation for this year, knowing I didn’t have the opportunity to ask questions and prove myself.
“You want to be able to control every element of your career so it was so frustrating, but I’m in a happy place now.”
Consequently, the World Championships, which take place in Glasgow and start on 13th July, will be all about chipping away at her season best – and perhaps personal best – rather than focusing on a podium finish.
And with the days ticking down to next year’s Paralympics, there is that overarching goal to keep in mind.
“I feel good at the moment but you never know what you are going to do until you’re there,” added the 28-year-old. “I feel like I’ve prepared in the right way and my aim is just to get my personal best.
“It’s been a strange season for me, obviously last year I missed out on major championships due to my illness, so since coming back it’s all been about focusing on the worlds and refining what I’ve been doing.
“I used to feel like winning medals was the biggest point of racing, but I’ve come to realise that my love for the sport comes with swimming as fast as I possibly can – that’ll be my goal at the worlds. It’s all a stepping stone to Rio.
“(A personal best) is something you always hope for, you never go into a race half-heartedly – as an athlete you’re a competitive animal by nature.
“I hope people are as excited about these championships as they were with the swimming at the Commonwealths, it really does help athletes when you’re given so much support and the public embraces it.”
To support the British Para-Swimming Team at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow get your tickets at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/glasgow2015