Stephanie Millward paid tribute to the organisers of "a dream come true" meet at the World Para Swimming European Open Championships in Madeira after her first appearance of the meet.
Three-time Paralympian Millward built on a solid heats swim on Wednesday morning to place sixth in the Women's S9 100m Freestyle final in the evening session of a competition that is taking place 12 months after initially scheduled, due to the worldwide impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Like her fellow British team members, the European Championships is the biggest competition for Millward since the 2019 World Championships in London - and as the Paralympic Games in Tokyo moves ever closer, the Bath University athlete feels it could be a pivotal moment.
"It's absolutely fantastic, this is like a dream come true. With the pandemic, we just assumed that everything had stopped and nothing would happen, the Paralympics would be called off - but this is just proof that it can happen," she said.
"The Europeans are a fantastic example to everyone that if everything is organised and everyone follows the rules, anything can happen. I feel so privileged to be here because there are so many people trying their hardest to help us achieve our dreams, I love it.
"In normal times, I'd do eight sessions a week in the pool, but at the moment I'm doing about four, which isn't really ideal - but if that's all we can get, that's as much as we can get. It just proves that when the pandemic is all over, we'll all be very grateful and appreciate our pool time even more. I just love the fact that everyone has pulled together to achieve this fantastic competition.
"My race wasn't fantastic, but going off four sessions a week, I can't ask for very much more. Sixth place in the whole of Europe isn't too bad. You can do anything if you believe in yourself."
Stephanie is back in action on Friday, in the Women's S9 100m Backstroke.
A busy week for Abby Kane continued with her appearing in the Women's S13 100m Backstroke final.
Kane - who claimed silver in this event at Rio 2016 - placed sixth, building on the time she registered at last month's British Para-Swimming International Meet in Sheffield.
"I'm happy because it's an improvement from what I did previously at BPSIM, so that's a good sign, that I've improved," she said.
"My goals for the rest of the meet are to continue to enjoy myself. It's a great opportunity to compete abroad, especially in COVID times, so I want to continue to improve and learn from the experience."
Kane goes in the Women's S13 50m Freestyle on Thursday, while Tom Hamer, Conner Morrison, Jessica-Jane Applegate, Ellie Robinson and Will Perry all return to action.