Spofforth keen to make fresh start
Gemma Spofforth's past 12 months would not look out of place in a Shakespearean tragedy – the death of her father's partner, food poisoning, a broken nose, temporary exile and almost retirement.
But, having opted against calling time on her career following a testing year to say the least, the 23-year-old world record holder has vowed to ensure all's well that ends well.
Spofforth began the year looking close to the swimmer that won the world 100m backstroke title in Rome in 2009 following the disappointment of failing to win at the Commonwealth equivalent in 2010.
She comfortably qualified for the 100m for July's World Championships at the British trials in March, however, what happened before, during and after her trip to Shanghai left her soul searching.
Spofforth, having lost her mother Lesley to bowel cancer in 2007, saw her father's new partner June succumb to lung cancer while she was at the British Championships in Manchester.
She was then forced to be away from her Florida base as she awaited her green card, then finally in China for the worlds, sickness and diarrhoea saw her crash out of the heats of the 100m.
Spofforth revealed after she failed to make the 50m final she nearly retired following her 100m failure and, to top it all off, upon her return to Florida she broke her nose, toe and needed 15 stitches following a bicycle accident.
Still Spofforth remains intent on making next year's Olympics, her second after finishing fourth in the 100m in Beijing in 2008, and she has vowed to make the most of everything between now and then.
"I came back to Florida after the worlds, I was very disappointed and I still had a huge decision to make to swim or call it a day," said Spofforth.
"I was thinking I had had a really good run being world champion and I am still the world record holder and I would be completely happy to walk away with that.
"I got back into it straight away and got fit but then I fell off my bike and it took something bigger than myself to actually take a break, so I enjoyed a week off and went back in.
"And I am now the fittest I have been for a while and I am really enjoying it and whatever happens, happens. I have found love for it again and this year is about enjoying it, getting in and racing and doing what I love."
He added: "I am enjoying it again this year and I am not putting too much stress on myself, just enjoying swimming, I have figured out how to enjoy training again.
"I always say the decisions I make, I have to make the most of them, I decided to come out to America all those years ago and whether I had decided to stay home I had to make the most of whatever I did.
"I have had a few bad run-ins but everyone has their problems and things that aren't right about their lives everyone has been through traumatic times."
Spofforth is currently building towards March's Olympic trials in London and will compete in Minnesota, Georgia twice and Texas before heading back to the UK a week beforehand.
And Spofforth, who missed out on 100m bronze at the Beijing Games by four hundredths of a second, believes doing so will leave her best prepared to secure a swim at her second Olympics.
"Racing is the best way to learn and you can improve on so much when you race and there are so many from now until the trials for me," added Spofforth.
"I will be going to Minnesota for a Grand Prix in a couple of weeks, I'll have the US Nationals in December and the European versus America Duel in the Pool and then in January there is the Austin Grand Prix.
"So there is a lot and I will go to those meets not just doing the 100m and 200m backstroke but the 100m freestyle, 200m medley other events in the middle of heavy training to see how it goes."