OVER the past few years, Scotland’s swimmers have made a real name for themselves in global terms. From Ross Murdoch winning World Championship medals to Duncan Scott and Stephen Milne getting on the Olympic podium, the Scots have caused quite a stir. And following on from the Scots’ impressive performances at Glasgow 2014, it bodes well for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which kick-off in just three months time.

However, despite the obvious medal potential, Scottish Swimming’s National Coach Alan Lynn is refusing to be drawn on any talk of medal targets, despite the high expectations. “We don’t talk about medals,” he stressed. “But what we do know is that we have a number of performers who, if they perform at their best, will be in with a very good shout of getting on the podium. We’ve been punching about our weight since Manchester 2002 and that’s obviously been great but we can’t take it for granted that we’ll always do so well.”

The last time the Commonwealth Games were held in Australia was 2006, when Scotland’s swimmers were the story of the competition, winning twelve medals, six of which were gold. That performance twelve years ago was against all the odds but Lynn is quick to point out that a repeat performance is far from guaranteed and that winning medals on the Australians home patch will prove far from easy. “We’re realistic about our chances – Australia are in the top three swimming nations in the world every year and we’re going onto their home patch so we’re under no illusions as to how difficult it is going to be in Gold Coast,” he said. “But Melbourne proves that the rankings count for nothing and that we can go in against the strongest nation in the Commonwealth and do well against them.”

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One thing that Lynn keen to address is that there are far more male swimmers operating at an elite level than female swimmers. The 21-strong team for Gold Coast includes just six women and Lynn is aware that increasing the number of females at the top level is vital for the health of the sport. “We’ve been trying to address the disparity – since I came into post, we’ve started Project Ailsa which aims to accelerate the girls transition into the senior team,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve had outstanding female swimmers but just not a cluster of them so we are trying to bring more than one or two along at one time.”

Lynn is keen to make sure that every base is covered in terms of preparation and he has invited a number of former athletes to speak to his squad including Melbourne 2006 gold medallists David Carry, Caitlin McClatchey and Gregor Tait. and he also arranged for Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson to share his considerable experience with his compatriots. “Michael talked about his journey and the lessons he’s learned,” Lynn said. “Every single person was enraptured. He’s been where every swimmer wants to be – on the Olympic podium. He’s been absolutely fantastic with the squad and it’s brilliant to have him involved. And they gave him a standing ovation at the end of his talk so that shows what they thought of him.”