Tom Dean is hoping to round off a brilliant year with more honours at the Fina World Swimming Championships (short course) at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island starting on Thursday.
The Briton, 21, is set to compete across various events, including 100m, 200m and 400m freestyles.
Apart from the individual events, Dean will be a member of the 4x200m and 4x100m freestyle relay teams, and perhaps, a third relay team race that has yet to be decided.
“It would be amazing if I can win a few medals in Abu Dhabi and round off an incredible year,” Dean, who became the first male British swimmer to win two Olympic golds at the same Games in 113 years, told The National.
“I have had a nice break since the Olympics. I took part in the International Swimming league in Eindhoven in November for my first competition after Tokyo.
“Abu Dhabi is the first major championship since the Olympics and I’m very excited and looking forward to the championship here.”
In the summer at Tokyo, Dean pipped his teammate Duncan Scott to take 200m freestyle gold.
He clocked 1 minute 44.22 seconds to finish 0.04s ahead of Scott and seal the first one-two for Britain in an Olympic swimming final since 1908.
It was a fine performance from Dean, who knocked 0.36 seconds off his lifetime best to seal the top spot on the podium. He then completed the double in 4X200m freestyle relay.
“To win two gold medals at the Olympics was really amazing, particularly after the challenging times we all had to go through during the pandemic,” Dean said.
“The Olympics for me was a culmination of a lot of hard work. It was made more difficult when the Games was postponed by a year because of Covid, from which I also suffered.”
Dean’s training was interrupted when he contracted Covid twice and had to spend several weeks out of the pool during an Olympic year.
“That was really tough,” he said. “I can’t thank my coach Dave McNulty enough for what he has done. He said we were writing an amazing story this year with the Covid cases.
“I’ve had six or seven weeks out of the pool during an Olympic year – that was really tough but he brought me through it in time for Tokyo.”
Dean’s plans after Abu Dhabi include the World Championships in Japan in May and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July-August, with the long term objective being Paris 2024.
Dean represented his country at the European Junior Championships and the 2020 European Championships where he won three gold and two silver medals in the team events and one individual bronze in 200m freestyle.
“I didn’t think of Olympics until two or three years ago when I joined the National Centre for Swimming in Bath and my coach at that time said there was a possibility that I can go further if I give it a proper go,” he added.
“I put my university studies on hold. I was studying mechanical engineering at the University of Bath. Now I think I’m going to put my studies a little bit longer just because everything has become busier.
“Here I am in Abu Dhabi now for the first time. I’m very excited since I touched down on Monday. It’s an incredible place and really looking forward for this short course racing, which is very fast paced.”