Manchester's Natalie Jones has revealed her desire to start her own business and become a wedding planner – but not before masterminding her own celebrations at next year’s Paralympics.
At 26, Jones is far from a veteran, however, her career statistics, and even herself, suggest otherwise with London 2012 potentially marking her fourth appearance at the Games.
Jones’ three outings so far have produced two golds from Athens 2004 and two bronzes from Beijing 2008 – while she also has eight world and seven European long course medals.
However, ahead of London, Jones has begun thinking of life after swimming and, in line with her potential future career; she even planned her own wedding to British Para-cyclist Rik Waddon last year.
She will move it on one step further by taking a professional course in the coming weeks – but insists her immediate focus is on what potentially could be her last Paralympics next year.
“It is scary, my life is just flying by, I feel like an old woman and I am only 26, it is scary, I went to the Sydney Games when I was 15 and I've been doing this for 11 years now,” said Jones.
“Life just seems to go by in seconds and by this time next year the Olympics would have been and gone and the hype around the Paralympics will be starting.
“And I am hoping to take a course in the next few weeks basically to become a wedding planner and an events planner – I am going to set up my own business.
“I planned my own wedding last year and that went well and the weather held out, which is unusual as it was in Lancashire, but I can’t leave anything untouched in the pool.
“I have to make sure I am the best that I can be because probably it will ultimately be my last international meet. I need to make sure I do everything I can to make it a good year.”
Jones’ last major outing before next year’s Paralympics, July’s European Championships in Germany, were met with mixed feelings after she won silver and two bronzes.
They came in the 200m medley and 100m and 400m freestyle respectively – races in which her fellow Brit Eleanor Simmonds won gold every time, while also setting two world records.
She will go head-to-head with the 16-year-old at the first Paralympic trials in the 2012 Aquatics Centre in March but Jones insists there are absolutely no hard feelings between the two.
“Ellie does all my events but we get on really well outside the pool and we swap DVDs and to be honest, all the girls on the team get on really well,” she added.
“There is no rivalry there. As soon as we get out we hug each other and congratulate each other and for someone of Ellie's age, what she has done is fantastic.”
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