Olympic silver medallist and UWA-West Coast swimmer Tamsin Cook says she considered quitting swimming entirely earlier this year.
In February, the teenager was nearing the end of a two-month break from swimming, just five months after anchoring Australia to silver in the 4 x 200 metre freestyle relay at the Rio Olympics.
"I did at one point [consider not coming back]," Cook said.
"It's a very challenging sport, it's a very challenging lifestyle, and after last year I was pretty overwhelmed about the prospect of getting back into the workload.
"I definitely had a few thoughts here and there, and I think every athlete has that at some point in their career."
Cook said the choice to take a break from swimming, a decision which ruled her out of selection for this year's World Championships in Budapest, was prompted by her heavy training schedule in 2016 as well as the demands of high school.
"I definitely needed a physical break, and a mental break as well," the 18-year-old said. "I also needed to finish Year 12 this year, and that was a big part of it as well. So it was a whole bunch of things after a huge year last year."
Cook said uncertainty over her career was another factor in her decision to take a break from the pool.
"I didn't really know what I wanted for a little while and that was quite difficult. But I'm glad to say I'm not that confused anymore. I know where I want to go."
One person Cook consulted with when making the decision to take time out was UWA-West Coast coach Michael Palfery.
He said he supported the choice, and never feared Cook would be lost to the sport.
"I understood the mental break of pushing on a daily basis and having a coach that is challenging you in the way I was," Palfery said. "I thought there may have been a bit of a battle to work at that level again, but I was quite confident she would come back."
The return to training was heavily controlled, with Cook taking part in just one session a week as she built back to competition level.
Cook's rise to Olympic level swimming coincided with her final years of high school, and juggling the two presented another challenge.
"I did split my Year 12 over two years, so that definitely took a lot of pressure off," she said. "Sometimes it's been quite hard to accept the fact that when I've got a really heavy training load, I might not get the marks that I want in school."
But despite the stress of juggling school and sport, the dream to represent Australia at another Olympics had not waned.
"After you experience an Olympic Games, it's like no other competition, especially in swimming," Cook said. "I just want to be back in that environment again, I would love to make it back there."
For now, the focus is firmly fixed on the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, with qualifying expected to start in February.
Originally published as 'Commonwealth Games: Renewed focus brings Tamsin Cook back into lane for Gold Coast' by Tom Wildie, ABC News (4/10/17)
Graduate Officer, UWA Sport Marketing, Communication, and Events