Paralympic swimmer Sam Hynd hopes to bounce back and return to top of podium in 2013
IT has been a hectic year and it is only now, in December, that Sam Hynd can properly celebrate.
For the Sutton-in-Ashfield swimmer, the Paralympics had been the sole focus.
His life had been in the swimming pool and at his home Paralympics in London, he added bronze in the 400m S8 freestyle to the gold he won in Beijing.
It was his younger brother Oliver who won silver in the same race, as well as a gold and bronze during the course of the Games.
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But for Sam, the year was still a success and the brotherly rivalry will turn up a notch in 2013 with the World Long Course Championships in Canada – the gold medal Sam is missing.
He has been back in the pool for the best part of two months, getting in a solid block of training prior to the new year.
But, after turning 21 back in July, only now is Hynd getting the chance to celebrate in style.
This month he is crossing the Atlantic for a holiday in New York.
And he plans to make the most of it in the run up to Christmas.
Hynd said: "It is a delayed holiday, a delayed birthday present.
"I have never been before so I am so excited. I have been to Florida but not New York.
"But at this time of year, with all the Christmas lights up, it is going to be great.
"I can do some Christmas shopping and see all the sights, it will be a great end to the year."
While it will be a fairytale of New York, it was not the golden fairytale at the Olympics for Sam.
But while he was proud to share the podium with brother Oliver, all focus now turns to the worlds.
He missed out four years ago following a serious car crash, but in Canada the aim is to medal – and hopefully add gold to the ones he won at the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008 and at the Europeans.
He said: "The trials are in April so that is the first focus and everybody will be getting a hard block of training in.
"It is a case of ticking over until the new year and then really ploughing into it.
"I missed the last one in Eindhoven because of the accident and hopefully I can go to Canada and add a medal to the others I have won.
"I am 21 now and there are younger lads coming through. And with me, it is even my younger brother.
"But I do not think the fire ever dies in you as an athlete and you always want to be the best you can be.
"This is also my job and whatever I was doing, I would always strive to be the best.
"I really want to medal at the worlds, first and foremost, but I am looking for gold.
"You can only control what you do so I would be looking for a personal best time and then hope that is enough.
"You have to be true to yourself and make sure you leave the pool knowing you have given your best performance.
"But it is getting so competitive. People talk about grassroots swimming and the development programmes and they are working, we have such a bright future in the sport.
"I have Oliver pushing me and we hear of Team Hynd, but we are still individuals competing. We have good banter but we are not arch enemies or anything like that."
In fact, despite Sam living down in Newport, they are still in regular contact, sharing their experiences in and out of the pool like any normal siblings.
And sharing that Paralympic experience in London is something that will never be matched.
But Hynd is confident Rio de Janeiro can put on a great show in 2016 when they play host.
And he hopes the Brazilians build on the momentum of this summer's Paralympics, when stadiums were sold out for nearly every event.
"Rio is a big aim of mine and Oliver," said Sam. "But there are many other events to concentrate on before then. There are a lot of hurdles to get over in the meantime.
"But London was just superb in getting people interested in disability sport across all disciplines and you would hope the organisers in Brazil will look to build on that momentum.
"It has raised the profile around the world and been a bit of a whirlwind but it is getting bigger and bigger. Now it is about being proactive.
"It has flown by since London but in some ways, it feels like a lifetime ago.
"But I can't wait to get going again next year – and the aim is the worlds."
First, however, he has to hit the shops of New York!
Sam Hynd is a member of the British Gas GBR Disability Swimming Team. British Gas has been the principal partner of British Swimming since 2009 and is encouraging everyone in Britain to discover the benefits of swimming. Visit www.facebook.com/BGSwimming