DUNCAN SCOTT has been on quite a journey since he made his Commonwealth Games debut as a fresh-faced teenager almost four years ago. Ahead of Glasgow 2014, few outside of the swimming world had heard of the freestyler but as Gold Coast 2018 approaches, Scott is one of the lynchpins of the Scottish team and is one of the brightest hopes for silverware at the Games, which kick off in just three months time.

Glasgow 2014 saw Scott claim his first piece of major championships silverware when he was part of the 4 x 200m freestyle relay team but the intervening period has seen his accumulate a raft of medals including, most notably, two Olympic relay silver medals in Rio last summer.

So rapid has Scott’s improvement been, he ended 2017 ranked third in the world in the 200m freestyle and fourth in the 100m freestyle. His rise to global prominence means that when Gold Coast swings into action, the pressure on Scott’s shoulders is likely to be considerable both in the individual and the relay events but he is refusing to get drawn into talk of how many medals he could return from Australia with.

“I’ve not even looked at the schedule yet so I’ve not picked out what I’m swimming,” he admits. “But when it comes to medal targets, we obviously have a strong team in the 4 x 200m. Individually, I will probably do the 100 and 200 free and it’s just about what I do around that. The 100 free is very fast in the Commonwealth Games.

“The depth the Aussies have within the 100 freestyle alone is ridiculous and any of them could potentially win the Commonwealth Games so that’s going to be a very tough event. And the 200 free will be a good battle too. I’ve never swum an individual event at the Commonwealth Games so I just need to go and see how that feels first of all then we can start talking about medals.”

Scott finished 2017 in impressive fashion, picking up two bronze medals at the European Short-Course Championships in Copenhagen, and the University of Stirling swimmer is currently in Perth in Australia for a training camp which will help prepare him for the conditions that he and his compatriots will encounter come the Games in April. With swimming one of Australia’s most popular and successful sports though, Scott knows that the Commonwealth Games will see the Scots go up against a vocal home crowd – but that doesn’t faze him in the slightest. “The Aussie swimmers get looked at in a different way that’s for sure - that’s the way the culture is over there,” he said. They’ve got some very talented swimmers.

“The big crowds will make a difference from it being quiet and the atmosphere is going to be electric but when you think back to Glasgow, it was phenomenal there as well. You could hardly hear yourself speak every time there was a Scottish person swimming so hopefully it is similar to that - that would be immense and if it’s like that, the competition will be phenomenal.”

While his hectic schedule of training combined with studying, Scott has little time to enjoy the life of a typical 20-year-old student. But he is far from bitter about having to sacrifice evenings in the student union and takes inspiration form his former teammate, Robbie Renwick, who was a mainstay of the British team for a decade.

“I heard a great quote from Robbie from a radio interview - they asked him that exact question about sacrifices, and he said ‘they don’t really count as sacrifices when you get to this level’” Scott recounts.

“He is completely right. Once you get to the level of international swimming, it just becomes habit, it’s not really a sacrifice, it’s just what you do. You push away your university friends. You tell them ‘sorry, but I have to go to bed at 9.30 because I have to be up at this time’. It becomes a case of that’s just what you have to do to achieve things rather than it be a sacrifice.”

While he may not spend his nights down the pub, Scott is far from one-dimensional and he admits that he is always keen to distract himself as regularly as possible from the day-to-day grind of full-time training and the pressures of competing at the highest level. “I’m not all swimming - I love getting away from swimming more than anyone,” he said.

“I’ve got university, which distracts me potentially more than it should and I follow football religiously - I’m am Alloa Athletic fan. The last game I went to was the Petrofac Cup final, which we lost 4-1 to Livingston.

“I find it quite easy to get away from swimming. The group that I train with are not just swimming mates, we’re mates outside the pool as well so it’s quite easy to get away from the swimming environment. We talk about swimming at the pool and then shut it off afterwards.”