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Interview with Strathallian swimming stars

Two former Strathallan School pupils are aiming to make a splash at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next April.

Duncan Scott, 20, will be going to his second Games while Scott McLay, 18, will be part of Team Scotland for the first time in Australia.

“To be picked feels incredible and I’m proud to be representing Scotland on the Gold Coast,” Scott, who is one of 21 swimmers selected, said.

“It might be a smaller team this time around than the one in Glasgow, but the quality is still there. Everyone has been sitting here watching the video highlights of 2014, getting goosebumps from seeing those guys perform.

“I’m 20 and I’m one of the older ones on the team or so it seems, but we have a really good mix. Hannah Miley is in her fourth Commonwealth Games, going for a third gold and we’ve got people like Scott competing in their first Commonwealth Games. That mix is important not just for the future but right away.”

Given he has performed superbly well already on the big stage, does Scott, who is now at the University of Stirling, feel the pressure of medal expectations?

“No, not really I think you need that pressure and competitive drive to want to get better and better,” he said.

“The relays are a massive push for medals, obviously, and we have some really strong depth, 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 event before that.

“The Games is incredibly competitive in the 100 freestyle. Australia have such a great pedigree in that event, they’ve got massive depth, then you have the Canadians and South Africans.

“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. They’ll be more used to it than us, but I think we’ll be fine.”

McLay, 18, stole the headlines in the summer when he won five medals at the Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games, including three golds.

He began swimming at Perth City Swim Club and then moved on to Strathallan and recently started studying at the University of Stirling.

“At the beginning of last season, I sat down with my coach Ann Dickson and we set out some goals. I put Gold Coast down there as something to strive for but I didn’t think I would be going,” McLay admits.

“It was just there to give me a target, but then I went to the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas where I didn’t expect to do as well as I did.

However, we had a great team and had great support and I came away with five medals. I was just hoping with every race I came through that I was getting quick enough to go to the Gold Coast.”

How will he feel being in a team alongside some big names as well as competing against world class athletes?

“This will be my first international senior meet so it is just something else to tackle,” he stated.

“I moved to Stirling University a few weeks ago to train with [coach] Steven Tigg and alongside the likes of Ross Murdoch, Craig Benson and Duncan Scott.

“They have a great set up there and it is great to be working alongside them and making sure that my technique gets better and my tactics get better. If I keep putting that in place then I feel I will be able to compete.

“I have always been around older, more senior swimmers with Scotland so I know some of the guys and I just need to make sure that this transition from juniors to seniors goes well.”

Written by Gary Heatly