Patrick Waters thought his competitive swimming career was over.
But now, the Kamloops native is making a run at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"You don't expect that you're going to have another shot at a dream," Waters told KTW.
"Just because I can't run doesn't mean I sit on my couch all day. Just because I can't walk for long periods doesn't mean I'm not out trying to do things.
"It's super exciting."
Waters, a former national-level able-bodied swimmer, was introduced to the world of parasport after a congenital birth defect, hip dysplasia, necessitated surgery to restructure both of his hip sockets in 2012. The changes in his hips shifted his pelvis and fractured a vertebrae in his back, later requiring another surgery.
After a fusion in his back and more than a dozen pins in his hips, the 30-year-old walks with a brace, unable to lift his left foot. His new reality hasn't kept him out of the pool, though, and he's back to pursuing his lifelong dream of making a Canadian national team.
"After each surgery, I spent six months learning to walk again," he said.
"I remember, a month later [after back surgery], walking out to the end of my driveway and that was a huge deal. It has just progressed since there.
"Swimming was a great form of rehab because I could actually get some exercise after these [surgeries]."
Waters swims in the SB9 category of adapted swimming, which the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) reserves for athletes with joint restrictions in one leg, double below-the-knee amputations or an amputation of one leg.
In December, he proved the Paralympic dream is an attainable one, twice improving on the Canadian record in his category's 200-metre breaststroke, one in an event in Kelowna and then again in Victoria.
He also won gold in the event at the U.S. Paralympic Open and captured silvers in the 50m and 100m breaststrokes at the same event.
The results not only helped the former UBC Thunderbirds swimmer build confidence, but showed what he would have to do to book his trip to Rio. Waters will need to be among the top three athletes in his disability category at Paralympic Trials in 2016.
"There's this moment of hesitation, like, "What if", he said, looking to Trials.
"Definitely, my results in December [showed] I'm on the right track. Now it's about fine tuning things."
Waters' Paralympic goal has been about making the best from a bad situation. Waters calls it his silver-lining situation.
Now that he has qualified for Trials in Toronto in April, he knows one more good swim can make his dream a reality.
"I always, growing up, had goals of making a national team. Those were cut short and my university swimming was cut short, because of these surgeries, Waters said, before looking to his new goal.
"I didn't think it was going to come this quickly."