At Glasgow 2014, Duncan Scott was one of the raw recruits, making his debut appearance at the multi-sports competition. But that did not stop him contributing to Team Scotland’s record Commonwealth Games medal tally, as the swimmers weighed in with 10 of the 53 baubles.
Four years on, he will head to Gold Coast in Australia as one of the experienced competitors, looking to add an individual award to the 4x200m freestyle silver he won at Tollcross, with a degree of expectation on his 20-year-old shoulders.
“Oh, really? That’s not something I’ve thought about,” said the University of Stirling student. “I’ve not even thought about what I’m going to swim at the Games yet. The relays are a massive push for medals, obviously, and we have some really strong depth.
“I’m 20 and I’m one of the older ones now. We have a really good mix. Hannah [Miley] is in her fourth Commonwealth Games, going for a third gold, so she’s experienced. Then we’ve got people competing in their first Commonwealth Games That mix is important not just for the future but right away. New people coming in will help someone like Hannah. It will push the experienced athletes on.
“But I’ve got an altitude camp to get out of the way before we even think about what events I’m doing – and there’s the European Short Course events before the Games. I’ve never swam individually at a Commonwealth Games, so let’s get that out of the way first.”
On Saturday he leaves for Flagstaff in Arizona for altitude training with Team GB. Then, in December, he will head to Perth in Australia.”
At the World Championships earlier this year, Scott won gold in the 4x200m freestyle with fellow Scot Stephen Milne, James Guy, and Nick Grainger, and he won a further silver in the 4x100m medley relay.
The strength in depth of the Team GB freestyle swimmers indicates the strength and depth of the challenge in Australia, where Scott is also faced by the might of the other great swimming nations.
‘Yeah, sadly, the Commonwealth Games is incredibly competitive in the 100m freestyle. Australia have such a great pedigree in that event, four or five of them who could swim that and win it.
“Thankfully, only three can enter. But they’ve got massive depth. Then you have the Canadians and South Africans.”
At the Rio Olympics last year, Scott made the final of the 100m freestyle and finished fifth, with Kyle Chambers, of Australia, and Santo Conderelli, of Canada, among those who finished above him. In the 200m, South Africa’s Chad le Clos and England’s Guy were the top performers, proving there could be several competitors looking to be flies in his Commonwealth ointment regardless what distance Scott opts for in Australia.
He is realistic but excited rather than daunted by the magnitude of the task. “It gets the juices flowing, the idea of competing against the Aussies on their home ground. That adds to it.
“We’re not in Glasgow any more, we’re on the other side of the world – and I’ve never swum in a major meet in an outdoor pool. I don’t do backstroke, thankfully, because it would be more of a factor. But they will be more used to it than us. But I think we’ll be fine.”
Scott is also encouraged by the fact the Scots grabbed the Games by the scruff of the neck the last time the Aussies hosted, in 2006, amassing what until now has been the biggest overseas return.
“You never expect anything in sport; nothing is a given, you learn that every single day. So to be picked feels incredible and I’m proud to be representing Scotland on the Gold Coast. It might be a smaller team this time around, but the quality is still there. Everyone is sitting here watching the video highlights of 2014, getting goosebumps from watching those guys perform.”