UNIVERSITY of Stirling swimmer Duncan Scott won two medals at his Olympics debut in Rio last summer but the 19-year-old Business and Sport Studies student believes his best is yet to come.
"It was a swim my coach and I felt was within me and it was possible to do and I’d had it in me for a while,” said Scott, who won silver medals in the 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay and the 4 x 100m Medley Relay in Rio.
“So it was good to deliver when it mattered. It was an unreal experience and I’m delighted to have achieved what I have and I’ll hopefully move forward in the next couple of years.”
In terms of his approach to his training and preparation nothing has changed since the Alloa teenager arrived home from Brazil.
The only exception was an unprecedented five weeks where he did not go anywhere near a pool before training resumed in earnest for the next Olympic cycle.
“After Rio some people found it quite tough to get back into the rhythm of things and back into training,” he said.
“But I sat down with my coach Steve (Tigg) and we set aims and targets for the following season and also the next four seasons of the next Olympic cycle.
“I’ve got new goals and new targets for this year, new things I want to get out of the sport, new achievements I want to try and make.”
Scott’s return to the pool, and to competition, could not have gone better. The teenager won six golds at the BUCS Short Course Championships along with five individual and three relay golds at the Scottish National Short Course Championships at the end of 2016. He has since started 2017 with two golds and a silver at the recent Euro Meet season opener in Luxembourg.
Despite his international and domestic success, Scott is not resting on his laurels and has two major targets for the year ahead.
“My main aims are the Worlds at the end of this season in August and to try and qualify for the Commonwealth Games team,” he continued.
“We had a Commonwealth Games gathering last week and we know we will all have to step up for that.
“[Qualification] will be tough but the team is ready, there’s a competitive 4 x 200 to get on, the 200 free is going to be a battle, it’s not going to be an easy race for getting on the team.”
Scott is one of 148 students supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes.
Through the programme he receives funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.
Eighteen Scottish universities and 25 colleges form the Winning Students network. Students at network colleges and universities benefit from a dedicated co-ordinator to ensure they can balance their studies and sport effectively.
Surprisingly Scott studied full time alongside his intensive Olympic preparations during year one at Stirling. The strategy clearly worked and he plans to remain a full time student this year.
“I didn’t feel the need to go part time,” he explained. “I coped quite well with the first semester so there was no need to take it off the pedal on the second one and at the moment I will keep going full time.
“I’m not really the type of person that gets stressed, and I don’t find being at uni and swimming very stressful. Doing both takes my mind off one or the other which is a good thing.”
He also believes the support he gets at Stirling is second to none: “The uni is one of the best set ups in Britain, especially for swimming. There aren’t many unis in Scotland that have a 50m pool, so that’s incredible in itself and the offering they have to get the best out of the athletes is phenomenal.
“The gym is also really good with all types of athletes in there from tennis, football, so there’s a strong ethos at the university and it’s all set up for sport and excellence.
“Winning Students offers extremely helpful support and the bursary pays for a lot of things, such as travel and rent.
“When I’ve got competitions it not only helps fund accommodation but also nutrition because healthy options, which help performance, tend to cost a bit more.”