Since the start of 2015 however, my journey has felt pretty much like the wiggly line on the right, and I've not yet found the path out of the maze. I've dug deeper than ever to find the motivation to train and compete in the face of setbacks, but the struggle has left me feeling burnt out.
Once I'd got back into training in April I felt as if I was barely maintaining, and even back-peddling on previous results. I'm proud that I kept plugging on through this, turning up to train even though I'd started to hate it and felt miserable. And then my body began to reject evening training. We've had late night sessions for years, which haven't posed much of a problem, but now my body was just saying 'No!'. A new low. From then on I was just fire-fighting - switching as much training as I could to daytime and being fastidious in recording recovery statistics to make sure I was only training when I was fit to, adapting over and over again. But the love for diving had gone and I was buckling under pressure and negativity.
With the commitment, effort and sacrifice I've given over the last few years comes a sense of pressure not only perceived from outside as expectation but also deep inside to make this journey worth those personal sacrifices. The huge success of my crowdfunding project relieved my short term financial pressures and showed me how many people were out there rooting for me. That's been a lifeline during my low moments of wanting to quit.
I made mistakes on the day, which I've noted and chosen not to use as a bat to beat myself with. Following a number of blood tests, it appears that my invisible wall may be as a result of being borderline hypothyroid and insufficient iron, despite supplementation. The physical stress of this sport acts like a microscope and at the outer reaches of personal effort it's certainly noticeable if you're not 100% healthy, but day to day its not so apparent. I hope that with more tests this summer I can find the best way to manage myself back to fully fit and healthy.
I've surprised myself in the last few days by not being utterly devastated - of course I'm gutted in a way I can't put into words but I also have a deep and comforting sense that right now I'm learning the really important stuff. It's at our most vulnerable times, when our soft underbelly feels raw and exposed that we can choose to stay open and feel the burn of disappointment, until it wipes you clean of all the non-essential stuff of who you are.
What I know I love about this sport is the way it brings you to look at the really tough stuff inside - the parts of ourselves we either don't know we have or keep hidden. Being competitive brings a host of ego faces along with it and the best divers have found ways to let go of ego-driven thoughts and behaviour. And so that's my training goal for now - working on the stuff inside rather than in the pool. I'm looking forward to a summer of trail runs and lake swims, soul searching on my yoga mat and an opportunity to connect with the ocean again through diving. Somewhere in all that will be my happy place, and it's from there that I'll strike out again on my training path when the time is right.