Olympian Duncan Scott swaps swimwear for scroll and graduation gown ahead of Tokyo trip

Swimmer Duncan Scott has already celebrated success this summer, a month before the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo.

The 24-year-old graduated from the University of Stirling with a 2:1 in Business and Sports Studies this week, before he heads to Japan with Team GB for four events in the pool.

Scott, from Alloa, broke two British records during qualifying and has been part of Stirling’s Sports Scholarship Programme for the last six years, balancing his degree with training. It’s a partnership which has brought success, particularly in Rio de Janiero five years ago when he took two silvers from the Olympic relays before adding five medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 – including individual gold for the 100m freestyle.

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Despite all his successes in the pool, completing his degree is amongst his top achievements, Scott says: “One of the things I’m most proud of, in all honesty, is getting a 2:1. I didn’t really enjoy school, being dyslexic, and having to balance it with swimming. The first and second years at university, I did find challenging, but by the third, I really started to enjoy it.

Duncan Scott graduated from the University of Stirling with a 2:1 before heading out to Tokyo for the Olympics. (Picture: JeffHolmes / University of Stirling)
Duncan Scott graduated from the University of Stirling with a 2:1 before heading out to Tokyo for the Olympics. (Picture: JeffHolmes / University of Stirling)

“Balancing the degree and training was sometimes difficult, but I’m really grateful to the University for how flexible they were. I was able to study part-time, which was crucial in allowing me to excel at certain points in the year and be at my best. At other times, instead of exams, I had the potential to do an essay instead, while I was away competing.

Now, focus turns purely to the pool, though Scott has not ruled out returning to academia in the future.

He said: “The run up to the Olympics is a lot different to any other international meet for swimming because the hype around it is just so vast, which is really exciting. When you visualise and think about the actual races, you get butterflies, but it’s more excitement about what could happen and what you’re wanting to achieve.

“I might decide after the next Olympic cycle that I want to come back and do a Masters, I’m not ruling that out. For the next cycle up until 2024, I want to focus on swimming and becoming the best athlete that I can be. But beyond that, I might fall back on my degree and do a Masters. I’ve enjoyed sport governance, sports management and marketing and international business.”

Duncan Scott won't rule out a return to academia for his Masters degree - but swimming comes first. (Jeff Holmes / University of Stirling)

“Fortunately, I’m a part of some really successful relay teams – we came second in the 4x100m Medley in Rio, we were world champions in 2019, so we want to try and be head to head with the Americans and Russians. We’ve got a great opportunity in the Men’s 4x200m and in the Men’s 4x100m – we’ve got a really young team so the potential is really high.

“Of the two individuals I’ll be looking to do, the 200m Free is always really tight, the 200m IM is not one I’ve swum much internationally, but I’ve improved a lot on and, again, it’s one I’ve got nothing to lose on.”

Cassie Wild, Kathleen Dawson, Aimee Willmott and Ross Murdoch from the University of Stirling will join Scott in the British swim team heading for Tokyo next month. Team GB are expected to name their athletics squad for the Games on Tuesday.

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