GOLD COAST 2018 will be Scott McLay’s first international senior meet but despite his inexperience, there is no shortage of expectation upon his young shoulders.

The 18-year-old broke into the public’s consciousness last summer when he made history by becoming the most successful Scottish Commonwealth Youth Games athlete of all time, returning home from the competition in the Bahamas with five medals, three of them gold.

McLay’s record-breaking Youth Commonwealth Games exploits were quickly followed by selection for the Commonwealth Games, which are now less then three months away.

The Youth Commonwealth Games are on a far smaller scale to that of the senior Commonwealth Games but nevertheless, the teenager is confident that having had a taste of a multi-sport games will help him settle into things when he arrives in Australia along with the rest of the 21-strong Scottish swimming team.

“It will be a completely different experience for me,” he said of Gold Coast. “With it being my first international senior meet, I’m really just looking for a great experience out there and to swim the best I have ever done. I learnt a lot from the Youth Games - it was good to see how all of the sports cheer each other on and I can take that into Gold Coast. I just want to see as much as I can in Gold Coast and take it all in – it’ll be great.”

The second half of last year saw McLay, who grew up in Perth, experience a significant change in circumstances – having finished school, he began studying at the University of Stirling, which is also home to a number of Scotland’s best swimmers including Ross Murdoch and Duncan Scott. The training environment is, McLay admits, extremely tough but the teenager chose Stirling because of the opportunity it would give him to improve as a swimmer and so he does not grudge giving up what is a typical student’s life.

“It was weird coming from age-grade swimming where people are swimming just for the sake of it into a proper performance group who are wanting to be the best of the best,” he said. “It felt good coming in because I want to be the best I can - I feel I have fitted in well and they have all been great with me. It has been hard, but they all back you up in the gym and things like that. I have just finished my first semester – I’m only first year so the uni work isn’t piling on yet. So far, it has been good because I have time for swimming and I have time for uni too.”