Meg Bailey found herself at a crossroads.
Upon hearing this year's Olympics had been postponed 12 months, the Merewether swimmer contemplated retiring from her beloved sport and starting life out of the pool as a PE teacher.
However, the 23-year-old Commonwealth Games representative has since decided to put her career in the classroom on hold and continue in the water as part of a bid for Tokyo in 2021.
"A lot of people, like myself, were probably going to retire after the Olympics [in 2020] and start a career outside of swimming," Bailey said.
"So when [March 24] we got the news about the Games being postponed a year, the question for me was do you really want to do this for another year? I've decided to give it a go."
Bailey said juggling her training commitments and being a new educator would have proved too difficult as part of a Games cycle, meaning that something had to give.
"I'm in the pool or the gym up to five or six hours a day. It's exhausting," she said.
"It means, even if I found some work now, I wouldn't be available all the time let alone have the energy to put in. So deciding to swim another year means I can't work, I've just got to train."
Bailey, who returned to Australia around 12 months ago following four years attending college in the US, feels making this choice will provide extra motiviation in achieving her Olympic dream despite the current coronavirus restrictions.
"Doing another year and then missing out on Tokyo would be really disappointing," she said.
"So, especially during this [COVID-19] period, I've been taking every opportunity on land to stay fit and active and hopefully get one up on my competitors."
With pools still shut and Bailey awiting the green light to resume training in Sydney with the NSW Institute of Sport under coach Adam Kable, she has managed to find some water closer to home.
"I've been going down to Merewether Baths a couple of times a week just to throw the arms over," she said.
"It's not ideal, but at least it's something. Hopefully we can get back into the pool and training soon."
Bailey, who had been based in the state capital, relocated to Newcastle with her parents "the day after everything was shut down".
While enjoying the last "six or seven weeks" closer to family and friends, she has "concerns" about being "race ready" this time next year if the forced break continues "much longer".
"A couple of more weeks out of the water and I don't know what impact that will have," she said.
"I'm a bit worried about it ... I'll just have to work hard when I get back."
Event wise, Bailey will be focusing on the 200 metre butterfly and 400m individual medley.
It comes after an encouraging performance before the global health crisis.
"We had a meet in Sydney the week before everything stopped and my 200m fly was only half a second off the Olympic qualifying time," she said.
"So I'm leaning towards the 200m fly and 400m IM as my two events. With the 200m IM, I'm not the greatest sprinter anyway."
Bailey said she'd felt "excited" and in a "good spot" before "all that [coronavirus] happened" which was "very disheartening".
The former St Francis Xavier's College student still intends to don the Hunter Swim Club cap when competitions, including the postponed national championships and next year's Olympic trials, resume.
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