With three gold, one silver and one bronze, Scott McLay was the star of Bahamas 2017, ending the Games as Scotland’s most successful Commonwealth Youth Games athlete in history, following an incredible few days in the pool. Just nine months later he was back on Team Scotland, this time as a senior at Gold Coast 2018, and once again returned with silverware, taking bronze as part of the 4x100m Freestyle Relay squad.
In November he was back racing alongside Gold Coast teammates Duncan Scott and Craig Benson, as part of the Stirling University contingent at the British Universities and Colleges Championships in Sheffield, where he came away with two gold and two silver medals across a successful weekend. He followed up at last weekend’s Scottish National Short Course Championships in Edinburgh as he broke Todd Cooper’s long standing National 50m Butterfly record set back in 2003. His Team Scotland experiences, he says, have given him a huge boost as he looks to a big 2019 where he is targeting a place at the World Championships in South Korea:
“My first experience with Team Scotland at Bahamas 2017 is something I’ll never forget as it was such a good atmosphere to be part of, which played a key part in my success. Everyone came together in every sport to support one another and it was like being part of a family – something I also found at Gold Coast 2018. The experience of swimming with a crowd of over 10,000 looking at you and the fact I was part of a medal winning relay was just beyond what I expected at my first senior Games. When we swam the relay we all felt as one with the same goal, to get a medal, but my favourite part of the Games was the whole atmosphere -getting to know people from all over the world and getting to know what they do. I was just taking it all in.
“There is nothing better than seeing your hard work in training show through, and that is exactly what the Commonwealth Games was, years of hard work and dedication paying off and it was more than worth it. My goal for the next year is to try and get into the Great Britain team for the World Championships, which is something I have dreamed about since starting swimming. Then my ultimate goal is to go the Olympics and to win an Olympic medal.”
Big ambitions, meaning more years of hard work and dedication ahead. He’ll be supported on the next part of his journey by a PHM Athlete Award, one of 18 young athletes across the Commonwealth Games sports to receive one for the coming year.
“Any sport is expensive to stay in and that’s why the Award will be a huge help,” he said. “I’ll use the money towards equipment, race entries and travel to competitions, which will take the financial pressure off me and allow me to concentrate fully on just the swimming. The fact that I’m getting a PHM Award is just amazing as it shows that my hard work is noticed and that, with this support, I’ll continue to do the sport I love to achieve my dreams.”
By the time of the next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in three and a half years’ time, Scott will be 23 years old and could be a key player in Team Scotland’s swimming team as he reaches his peak. He’s certainly proved he can perform on the big stage and is definitely one to look out for on future major championship podiums.