Last year was a difficult one for New Zealand's top Paralympic swimmer Sophie Pascoe, as the coronavirus pandemic prevented her from training and then postponed the Tokyo Paralympics.
It was a long struggle, with lockdown meaning she could not swim for three months and a four-year campaign became five.
"It was really the hardest time of her life," longtime coach Roly Crichton told 1 NEWS.
"There was a lot of deep thinking: What the hell is going on here?"
But through the darkest days came the brighest light. Pascoe found love, and a fresh perspective on her future.
"I found love through Covid which has been a nice positive," an emotional Pascoe told 1 NEWS. "[They're] someone who stuck by me through a rough time.
"It's definitely opened up a whole new life for me that was something I put aside for so long to focus solely on swimming.
"When I look back it's scary — I put all my eggs in one basket. Yes, I was successful, but was I happy? Not as much as what I know now," Pascoe said.
A revitalised Pascoe is now preparing for her fourth Paralympics, and Crichton has been there the entire way, the pair having formed their partnership 20 years ago when Pascoe was just eight.
"From me being an eight-year-old to now a 28-year-old with Roly I think our roles have reversed. I was the child, now I'm very much the mother," Pascoe laughed.
"That mutual respect in terms of me being the athlete and him the coach and both having the same goal that drives one another to be at the pool waiting for one another, that's where the success has come in."
The job is not done yet. Pascoe has four confirmed events in Tokyo, four chances to bring home Paralympics gold, perhaps for the last time.