Countdown begins to London Games

IT was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for many, but yesterday had a familiar feeling for Paralympic swimmer Matt Cowdrey.

Celebrating exactly one year until the 2012 London Paralympic Games last night, the champion swimmer and new Sunshine Coast resident is preparing again to take on the world.

Cowdrey, 22, celebrated the milestone date in Sydney with members of the Paralympic community and Governor-General Quentin Bryce at the unveiling of the Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame.

Having been involved in the Athens and Beijing Paralympic Games, yesterday was a moment in time he was all too familiar with, but one he always welcomes.

“Being one year out is a good milestone. It's a mental wake-up knowing it's so close. Very motivational,” Cowdrey said.

“We've been in training pretty much since Beijing, so we're three-quarters of the way through our training. This is the most important quarter.

“We're in good condition to make an assault on London.”

Cowdrey said his plan was to compete in the 100m butterfly, 100m breaststroke, 100m freestyle, 50m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley.

For the first time at the Games, swimming will be spread over 10 days.

“It's a very long program – we're not used to that. It does work out in my favour though. I will be swimming the first four days, then having a two-day break before the remainder,” he said.

“In terms of preparation, I believe we're well ahead of where we were four years ago for Beijing.”

Cowdrey, who has moved to the Coast only in the past few weeks, said the change of scenery was welcome.

He has set himself up at Sippy Downs and trains at Kawana with Beijing Paralympics group coach Jon Shaw, former coach at Bay Side Swimming Club in Sydney.

“I've been training outdoors, which is something I've never been able to do in Adelaide or Canberra. It's exciting to be able to do that,” he said. “I'm also a big fan of the Coast lifestyle. It seems like a great place to live.”

He had only just returned home after a championship effort at the Para Pan Pacs in Edmonton, Canada, where he claimed gold in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m Fly, and 200m individual medley, as well as a silver in the 100m breaststroke.

The 2012 Paralympics will run from August 29 to September 9.

More than 4200 athletes from 150 countries will compete in 20 sports.

Australian Paralympic Committee president Greg Hartung said a top-five finish was achievable.

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