Grace Reid has had to contend with allergies all her life and knows that even a trace of nut in her food could spark a dangerous reaction, but she has proved she can take care of herself in and out of the pool.
The Edinburgh athlete, who moved south last year to train with Tom Daley’s coach Jane Figueiredo, says she is finally getting to grips with the London tube system and while she may still occasionally get lost in the city sprawl, she is clear about the direction her diving career is headed.
With a newfound independence, she says she has matured as a person. But it is in the pool that she is really coming of age.
A gold medallist in the 1 metre springboard event at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year, becoming the first Scottish female diver ever to make the podium, she has now set her sights on further glory on the World and European stage.
In 2016 she won Euro gold in the mixed 3m springboard synchro with Daley and bronze in the women’s individual event – the first Scot to grab individual glory since 1954 – and then combined with Daley again to take silver at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.
But it is the consistency of her diving, across multiple disciplines, that is now forcing rivals to take heed. Whether on her own or as part of a duo, launching herself off the 1m or 3m springboard, Reid is a regular contender in the World Series. Following on from individual success in Australia, Reid and Daley picked up where they had left off. Two successive World Series silvers in the build up were followed by more silver in Montreal, in April, and Russia, in May, where she also claimed bronze alongside Katherine Torrance in the women’s 3m synchro.
The fact that she has continued to shine despite the sabbatical taken by Daley, underlines her quality.
In her well-known partner’s absence, Team GB have paired the 22-year-old with Ross Haslam and the pair belied the lack of preparation by earning bronze in their first competition together, at the recent World Cup event in Wuhan, China.
While the medal was welcomed and the Scot was able to tick a viewing of the world famous Terracotta Army off her bucket list, there were challenges. The non-stop schedule has given her little time to absorb of celebrate her Commonwealth achievement which the extensive travelling means she has to be even more careful with her food.
“Although I am travelling and exhausted I am definitely coming away with a lot of experience and a lot of good results.
“I’m anaphylactic to nuts so going to somewhere like China, that’s a strain that I usually don’t have at home where I know what I can and can’t eat, so it is just little things like that. I would love not to have to think about it but I do, so when I travel I have with me all the medicines I need. When I get to a new place, I go and speak to the chef, get them to understand, no, no I really can’t eat this and I do all I can and minimise the risk.
“But at least it’s not anything diving related, it is not chlorine allergies at least!”
There seem to be few issues in that department and the fact that both Reid and Haslam have had such a bright start bodes well for more medal success when she returns to Edinburgh in August to compete in the European Championships.
Still waiting to learn which events she will contest, individually and in synchro, she knows the biggest challenge will come from the Russians, Germans, Ukraine and Netherlands but she is hopeful that she can make the most of home advantage, having trained at the Royal Commonwealth Pool for most of her life.
“I absolutely love London and it is feeling like home but Edinburgh is home, home, as I say to my mum all the time. So, to have the home comforts, the familiarity, that home turf, I am really hoping will be an asset.
“But I think the British Diving team has so much depth and experience that every athlete on the team is a potential top-six finisher, medalist, champion. We are all definitely within that realm. I’d like to think I am a strong member of that team but I am by no means the only one.”