There is a photo framed at Grace Reid’s family home that captures the young diver taking her first baby steps into the world at large. Aged only 14, carrying an umbrella around the closing ceremony at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, an innocent abroad.
Three days later, she had been transported back to her school in Edinburgh, challenged to achieve high scores instead in the exam hall. “I don’t think anyone really prepared me for that. Why would you?” the now 21-year-old proclaims. “Settling back into normality afterwards, I really struggled, and I lost motivation, and that was when I thought: ‘I really don’t know if I actually want to dive.’”
It took a while to unravel her torment. “It was actually: ‘No, I do want to dive.’ But I just needed to figure out how to get a bit more normality in my life as well.”
A sound decision, given the supranormal life the young Scot is savouring now. Eighth in the 3m springboard final at the Olympics in Rio two years ago, weeks after landing bronze at the European Championships in London, she will soon head to her third Commonwealths on Australia’s Gold Coast wiser, stronger and much more emboldened.
The ascent has appeared relatively seamless. Anything but, she reveals. Times when she craved to be a teen picking out tops of a Saturday rather than lifting up weights. Trips when homesickness kicked in on the road and when the gloom surpassed the thrill of new people and new places. “Difficult,” she says. Her former coach, Jenny Leeming, kept her sane. Her parents too. “They’ve always just said ‘Whatever makes you happy will help you’… and I think a lot of people played a big role.”
Likewise, changes of environment. None bigger than her decision to leave Edinburgh University and relocate to London, where she now works under Tom Daley’s coach Jane Figueiredo at the Aquatics Centre in the city’s Olympic Park.
Life in the Big Smoke suits her well. Fresh ideas, a bold canvas on which to paint her life. “I was a bit overwhelmed when I moved and actually a bit panic-stricken on the Tube and there was a lot of adjustment. And it’s big compared to Edinburgh. And then I went ‘Okay, I’m going to make a list of everything I want to do in London’. Things that pop up that are just here for a weekend… I’m gradually making my way down the list.
“It’s never-ending though because every time I tick things off, I keep adding. But to be 21 and getting life experiences like that, it’s a fantastic opportunity.”
Now for one more, when her lone outing at Gold Coast 2018 arrives in a few weeks’ time. Five of the world’s top six will take leaps of faith into the outdoor pool. That she is now among them is a boon, she smiles. “But you know with that progression also comes a lot of pressure, and I think the outlook I’ve taken is the pressure’s going to be there whether I ask for it or not.
“I have five dives I need to do, whether that’s Europeans, whether that’s a club competition. And actually that allows me to really focus on the job at hand.” No longer out of her depth, ready to show the world what a splash she can make.