Florida has been home for Dan Wallace in the past few years, but the swimmer is delighted to be back in Scotland this week.
It may have been a dull, overcast day in Glasgow yesterday, but, for Commonwealth Games hopefuls, it’s all eyes on the summer. The Games trials take place in the next four days at the Tollcross International Centre, and three places are up for grabs in each event.
Wallace, the breakthrough boy of 2013, is desperate to claim his fair share. “I’m swimming in five events and I think I have a shot in all of them,” said the Warrender 20-year-old who is a third-year student at the University of Florida.
“The top two are the 400m and 200m individual medley and I also definitely aim to make the 4 x 200m freestyle relay squad. I’m hoping to post a great time in the individual event.”
In his first couple of years in the United States, Wallace was lucky enough to train alongside one of the world’s all-time greats in Ryan Lochte, an 11-times Olympic medallist.
“He has moved on to South Carolina but he’s a great guy and I learned a lot from him,” said Wallace, who was disappointed to miss out on the London Olympics but burst into Team GB at last year’s World Championships in Barcelona. On his GB senior debut he broke the Scottish record in the 400m individual medley with a time of 4:10.35 – he had already indicated his potential in British trunks with two medals in the 2011 European Junior Championships.
Wallace, whose family live in North Berwick, returned home on Monday fresh from collecting three silver medals for his University at the prestigious NCAA (US Collegiate) Championships in Texas.
“I was a bit jet-lagged but I’ve been training with Warrender for the past couple of days,” he said. “It’s great to catch up with my coach Laurel Bailey. We keep in touch a lot and she still has a lot of input and works alongside my US coach, Gregg Troy.
“It’s so good to be back in Scotland. There is a real buzz about the Commonwealth Games. Everyone is talking about it and everyone wants to be there.”
One of the showcase events over the next four days will be the men’s breaststroke. Michael Jamieson is the Olympic 200m silver medallist and Craig Benson is the youngster who turned heads by making the London 2012 team as a 17-year-old.
Stirling’s Ross Murdoch made his mark last year when he was in Team GB for the World Championships and Edinburgh University’s Calum Tait added his name to the mix by winning the 200m breaststroke at this season’s Scottish National Short-Course Championships. Hannah Miley, Caitlin McClatchey and Robbie Renwick are an experienced trio going for glory at the Games while the women’s backstroke will feature a clash of two schoolgirls in Charlotte MacKenzie and Lucy Hope.
For Scottish Swimming chief executive Forbes Dunlop, the next four days are an exciting taster of what is to come in the summer.
“Tollcross is a fantastic venue and these Championships have been set up to replicate what will happen at the Games,” said the man who just missed out on reaching the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. “I’m not making a prediction on the number of medals we will get at Glasgow 2014 but we will be doing all that is necessary to support the swimmers.”
The Scottish Championships is perhaps the most important, but it is just the first of the selection events. There will be another chance to improve times at next week’s British Championships, also at Tollcross.
For Wallace, this is a one-off. “I’m flying straight back to Florida after the Scottish Championships so there is a little extra pressure,” he said. “But that’s what I enjoy.”