“Having the thoughts of never being able to swim again made me realise just how lucky I was to be able to and just how much I loved to compete."
Australian Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Cole is continuing her return to the pool in Australia ahead of July’s IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, following reconstructive surgery on both her shoulders in 2013.
However despite competing in London at Britain's National Paralympic Day earlier in 2014, the S9 swimmer is not getting ahead of herself.
Cole said: “Glasgow 2015 will be an interesting one. I am taking my return to swimming with little baby steps being careful not to rush into things too quickly and re-injure myself.
“Currently, I am swimming the speeds that I want to but I would like to be back to personal best pace swimming by Glasgow 2015. We will see how that goes I guess!”
Cole, who won three gold and two bronze medals at London 2012, can expect a strong challenge in Glasgow with British world champion duo Stephanie Millward and Amy Marren sure to be cheered on by a passionate home crowd.
In fact the two-time Paralympian raced against Marren in London earlier this year but Cole is not allowing herself to worry about what her competitors might be doing.
“Swimming has changed remarkably since I have been out of the sport and there is a whole new pool of competitors, excuse the pun. All I know is that I will race the best I can,” she said.
“Over the last 12 years of competing I have learnt not to worry about what anybody else is doing because at the end of the day you need to expect the unexpected. There is no point worrying about that now is there?!”
The 22-year-old from Melbourne was forced to miss the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada, and despite finding it difficult, the former International Paralympic Committee Athlete of the Month felt it was for the best.
Cole used her recovery time to get into coaching and has said she could see herself doing it as a career.
“I have loved coaching in my recovery time - it takes me back to when I was a kid and got frustrated over every minute detail.
“I find myself extremely proud of the athletes I coach and have sometimes even had to hold back a few tears when they’ve done well! I know what it means to these kids to win and I want to show them how to do it.
“It was great to go back to the grassroots level of the sport and seeing kids enjoy just being in a team environment and training hard to reach their goals. I must say I had a bit of nostalgia and it has made me remember everything that the sport is about.”
The surgery and subsequent rehab has also put any talk of retirement firmly to back of her mind having initially discussed the move from the sport post-Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
She said: “Obviously, I seem to like to throw the word retirement around! It was always my plan to retire post London. I had some serious reflection time after my surgeon explained that having a shoulder reconstruction could see me out of the pool indefinitely.”
“Having the thoughts of never being able to swim again made me realise just how lucky I was to be able to and just how much I loved to compete.”
Glasgow 2015 will feature 650 swimmers from 50 countries and will take place from 13-19 July at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, the same pool as used for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Tickets for Glasgow 2015 are available to purchase now.