Cutting an onion is expected to bring on the tears, but Jack Thorpe could never have imagined prepping dinner would serve up severe injury.

“I dropped a knife on to my foot,” he recounts at the outset of a graphic re-telling of the kind of kitchen nightmare that would make even Gordon Ramsay blanche. "Blood pouring everywhere. Panic. Cartoonish if it wasn’t so serious."

“It was a freak thing,” the swimmer, now 24, admits. At A&E in Edinburgh, they stitched him up and sent him packing. No cause for alarm, they assured. Until a few weeks later when, with his foot flopping and immobile, a re-examination found that the blade has severed the tendon which controlled his toes, a somewhat critical function when attempting propulsion through water at maximum speed.

“I went back to Edinburgh the next day,” he relates, “and the Institute of Sport set up an operation. I was out of the pool for five months. It was a major low. I was really questioning whether I should come back.

“But it was a silver lining. I talked to my coach and my parents and the decision was that I should really focus on swimming.” He put his university studies on hold when his protective boot finally came off and then set about re-building himself and his aquatic career. New mechanics, fresh impetus, amended attitude.

“And,” Thorpe affirms, “that brought a breakthrough in 2017 where I came second to Duncan Scott in the 100m freestyle at the British Championships which secured my place at the Commonwealths. So I went from an injury seven months prior to a lifetime personal best and being on the podium, which was ridiculous.”

Two medals were secured at Gold Coast last April. Now the countdown to Tokyo 2020 begins in earnest. And he will renew rivalries with Scott today when the Scottish short-course championships begin in Edinburgh, with the next Olympics top of his target list.

Scott, closing off a year where European and Commonwealth golds underlined his elite status, is to undertake a variety of events over the three-day meeting, which has attracted many of the UK’s quickest. His initial foray will come in the 50 metres freestyle, an event where Thorpe reclaimed outright grasp of the Scottish record last month after previously sharing the mark with Scott McLay.

“I’m looking forward to that, and the 100 free,” added Thorpe. “In the past we’ve gone head to head and Duncan’s at that worlds level now. Ever since 2015, he’s been on this incredible trajectory and that’s great for Scottish swimming.

“Some events, there isn’t depth. Whereas you have the guys from Stirling and Edinburgh, so many of us, who are chasing him over the 100 and 200 especially. If I can be within reach of him, it puts me in good stead for trials in 2019.”

Elsewhere on the opening day in Edinburgh, rising star Freya Anderson faces Aimee Wilmott in the 200m individual medley while Scott will also take another young gun, Jacob Peters, in the 100m butterfly.