Dylan Broom broke into tears when he was told he will represent Wales at his first Commonwealth Games this summer.
There was good reason for the outpouring of emotion from the Torfaen Dolphins swimmer after he resisted the urge to quit the sport and fought through the most frustrating period of his career just six months ago.
And now, the 20-year-old from Abersychan S14 athlete, who lives with an intellectual impairment that affects his processing speed, reaction time and stroke rate, can look ahead to representing Wales on the world stage in Birmingham.
“At the start of this year I was considering quitting swimming,” said Broom. “I wasn’t making any progress or improvements to my times. I think it was a mental block, physically I was fine but mentally I couldn’t get there.
“There were a couple of things that changed that for me. British Swimming got me talking to a sports psychologist. I had a really good chat with my other coach Tom as well and that really made a difference.
“The way I found out was pretty interesting. My coach Ian knew, and we were out on a boys’ squad day out paintballing. As we were coming back home, he called me over in Newport and he told me there and then, and I broke into tears on the side of Malpas Road.
“It’s amazing to be representing Wales, this will be the biggest event I’ve ever competed at.”
A proud Welshman, Broom is one of two Torfaen Dolphins to be selected for the para swimming squad alongside 14-year-old Meghan Willis. His dreams of representing Wales in the pool were born from watching the 2012 London Olympics, and now he is relishing the opportunity to go up against the world’s best S14 swimmers in the S14 200m Freestyle.
“I started swimming in 2012 after the London Olympics so it’s almost exactly 10 years,” he added. “The S14 class is really competitive at the moment, there are three Australians going and three English and a Canadian as well. It’s like the Olympics without USA. It’s going to be competitive but I’m going to compete.”
When Broom was told he was selected, he quit his job as a lifeguard to focus on reaching the Games in peak condition. And with his friends and family in the stands at Sandwell, Broom is determined to perform.
“It’s a home games, my brother and all my family will be there and even my friends bought tickets which I was surprised about because they’re so expensive,” he added. “I’m going to have to perform for them now.”