Ollie Hynd shares his story of being a para-swimmer
I’m a para-swimmer. Although I’m only 20 years old, I’ve had the privilege of representing Great Britain since I was 17 and became a Paralympian at the same age. It’s been an amazing journey that has given me the opportunity to experience so many things and meet some awe-inspiring people along the way.
I’ve won multiple world class medals, 17 to date – 5 bronze, 5 silver and 7 gold. I currently hold the British record for the 100m backstroke, the European record for the 200m individual medley and the World record for 200m freestyle and 400 individual medley. And in 2013, I was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) as well as a golden post box in my hometown.
I believe that no matter how old or able you are, you can still make a difference and go on to achieve your dreams. Hopefully my story so far is testament to that.
Like most children, I started swimming at a young age. My mum and dad took me for swimming lessons mainly to be water safe. I swam at junior school and completed all my badges up to honours when I was 8 years old. I then joined my local swimming club.
But, my passion really kicked in when I started to swim competitively at 9. Then in 2008 when I was 13, I went to the Beijing Paralympic Games to watch and support my brother Sam, who went on to win gold and set a new world record. When I saw Sam win that gold, it inspired me to swim as fast and as competitively he did.
I made the county squad and joined Nova Centurion and I’ve been swimming for them ever since. I worked my way through the ranks from the development squad, the B squad and finally the A squad. All my hard work over the years finally paid off in 2011 when I made the qualifying time for the European Championships and achieved selection to represent Great Britain for the very first time. Since then, I’ve had many achievements to celebrate. It’s not been easy though…
My every day challenges
I was born with a condition called Neuro Muscular Myopathy that in simple terms weakens my muscles. So training for me is in some ways a bittersweet experience. To keep my condition from taking over, I need to train to keep my muscles strong and active, but it leaves me exhausted for fighting my condition every day. Not only does my condition weaken my muscles, it’s affected my legs too. This means that even a simple every day activity like walking, is a struggle.
Dream and overcome
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”- Paulo Coelho
Life is full of struggles and challenges and we all have our own to face. I believe challenges are there for us to overcome. Without challenges how would you grow? And, the bigger the challenges are that we face, surely the thrill of overcoming it will be greater too?
For me, having a dream has played a huge part in helping me overcome the challenges I face each day. My dream was to swim for Great Britain and win gold at the Paralympics in London. Since I’ve achieved my first dream, I’ve raised the bar to get 3 gold medals, one for each of my main events, but to also inspire others to dream and go on to make their dream a reality. I believe dreams are meant to inspire and motivate us to push forward.