Paralympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Rowan Crothers, couldn’t wait to reunite with his Dolphins teammates for their national training camp on the Sunshine Coast.
Kicking off 2021 with high intensity training sessions at the USC High Performance Centre, it was the first time the team had come together in more than a year – and Crothers savoured every moment.
"This camp's pretty awesome. It's been a great to opportunity to catch up with all my mates who I haven't seen for nearly 12 months now," he said.
"I thought I'd go pretty okay in the lockdown, but really not being able to see some of my closest friends (made it difficult).
"I think I've learnt personally that those connections that I've built with people over the years are actually so, so valuable.
Like most athletes, Crothers missed training when COVID-19 restrictions came into force, however this time on dryland gave him a refreshed sense of perspective and appreciation.
“Once the lockdown actually hit, I missed training so much and I missed being in the pool.
“I think the one thing I really got out of lockdown was to make the most of every session because you never know what's going to happen or if it's going to be your last one."
With his sights firmly set on reaching his ultimate sub-50-second freestyle goal, the 23-year-old Yeronga Park athlete eagerly returned to training for Tokyo 2021.
“Right before the lockdown, I was the closest that I've ever been to reaching my dream of 49 seconds for the hundred free, and I was just improving and getting better and it was really frustrating when (the lockdown) happened,” he explained.
“The 49 seconds is still the goal and I honestly believe that I can get there. I have an amazing support team, a network of amazing friends, coaches and scientists who are right behind me and believing in that dream alongside me.
“I'm real excited for it, and it's not a question of if it'll get there, it's when it's going to happen.”
The Tokyo Paralympics take place from 24 August until 5 September.