Super Stephanie Millward is hoping others will take the plunge
Stephanie Millward hopes her five-star success at London 2012 will have inspired not just a generation but people of all ages and abilities to 'chase their dreams'.
The Corsham swimmer – who revealed she will be setting up home in Bath soon – was ParalympicsGB most prolific medalist at the Games, winning four silvers and a bronze.
Her achievements are all the more remarkable as she has to balance the intense demands of competition with managing the fatigue caused by multiple sclerosis, with which she was diagnosed in 1999.
"I made sure I had enough sleep at night and ate enough food, that's all I needed to do," explained Millward, who will celebrate her 31st birthday next Thursday.
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"I've been able to control the condition for 13 years so far and hopefully I'll be able to control it for another 13 years.
"I'm hoping to speak to other MS sufferers and show them what I do to cope, to help them out and hopefully get over the fatigue issue and the spasms.
"But these Games have been about inspiring everybody. Even if you're 82, you can still learn to swim. It's easy peasy, all you've got to do is go to a pool.
"Hopefully the Olympics and Paralympics have encouraged everybody to chase their dreams, to do everything they've always wanted to do.
"I've realised all of my dreams, it has been absolutely fantastic. The whole week was the highlight – I smiled all the way through it, enjoyed the crowds, enjoyed the swims, enjoyed the whole experience."
Millward followed up her S9 100m backstroke and 400m freestyle silver medals with a superb second place behind South African legend Natalie du Toit in the 200m individual medley, setting a huge personal best of 2mins 36.21secs.
She then led off the 34-point 4x100m medley relay team in a thrilling final, which saw the front four separated by just four-tenths of a second.
Louise Watkin made up three places on the final leg to snatch silver for Great Britain in 4:53.98, just three- hundredths of a second behind Australia.
"It was a fantastic race – we were all over the place, weren't we?" said Millward. "One minute we were miles behind, then right at the front – absolutely incredible. It certainly got the adrenalin going.
"It's a shame because we were expecting gold, which is something you should never do but we just assumed we had enough to do it.
"Unfortunately we were each less than 0.01 of a second too slow on this occasion."
It was Millward's second relay medal of the week, following her bronze in the 34-point 4x100m freestyle, but her appetite for Paralympic success shows no sign of abating.
"Rio is very much on my radar," she said. "I've worked four years since Beijing and brought home five medals, so just imagine if I can bring home another five or six medals in 2016. Hopefully one of them will be gold next time."
Training for the next stage of her career looks set to be in Bath, with Millward – who will marry Adrian McHugh in Batheaston next year – revealing she is moving back to the area from her current Swansea base.
"I'm going back to Corsham for a little while to see all my friends and family, then I'm going to move to Bath, which will be exciting," she added.