The road to Rio - City of Sheffield swimmer Braxston Timm

Braxston Timm  at the US Nationals with Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever
Braxston Timm at the US Nationals with Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever
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The life of an Olympian is often one full of ups and downs – but few more so than Sheffield swim star Braxston Timm.

Braxston was taken to swimming lessons by his grandmother at just five years old, and soon became at one with the water – he was competing at a local youth level by the age of 12.

From there things progressed smoothly, and a promising young swimming career began to develop into a more serious, burning ambition – to one day become an Olympic swimmer.

He trains 10 times each week at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, and is part of the City of Sheffield Swim Squad. He’s swum at Ponds Forge ever since he first started out all those years ago.

However, the smooth ride thus far was to take an almighty speedbump in 2012, just when Braxston was beginning to reach the peak of his powers.

Having medalled at youth level on the European stage and showed extreme promise during his fledgling senior career, it was during qualifying for the London 2012 Olympics that a serious shoulder injury curtailed his season and kept him out of the pool for seven months.

Twelve months on, Braxston returned to competitive action – but he had a long way to go to get back to his best.

“I basically had to start from scratch,” said Braxston.

“A long lay-off like that impacts anyone but a swimmer in particular. There’s so much training involved that it takes a great deal of time, training and perseverance to get back to where you were before you were injured.”

But now Braxston feels as though he’s finally getting there: “If anything, I’m stronger now than I was before the injury,” he said.

“A setback like that helps you to sharpen up, especially mentally.

“I’ve come back a lot wiser. A lot of athletes disregard recovery but I’ve learnt and realised that it’s so important, and everything from my diet to my routine has improved – I’ve sharpened up massively.”

After his comeback from injury Braxston even raced against the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, earlier this year at the U.S Nationals in Texas.

“The atmosphere was amazing, and in that race he swam the fastest time in the world this year. To hear the crowd chanting was a bit special,” said Braxston.

And Braxston has paid special tribute to the training and facilities on offer at Ponds Forge: “It’s second to none and has certainly played its part in me being where I am today.”