Aquatics Steps Into Sports Focus Spotlight

April 4, 2019

Team Scotland’s most successful Commonwealth Games sport, Aquatics is next up in our ‘Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future’ Sport Focus, which features all 25 sports in which Scotland has competed at the Commonwealth Games.

Look out for everything Aquatics related on our website and social media channels in the coming month as we follow Scotland’s swimmers and divers from their first appearance in 1930, to contributing the most medals to Team Scotland’s record breaking medal tally exactly one year ago at Gold Coast 2018.

Aquatics at the Commonwealth Games

One of the six sports included in the first Commonwealth Games in 1930, Aquatics includes both Swimming and Diving, with both being contested at every Games to date. Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool, built for the 1970 Games is the only sporting venue in the world to be used at three Commonwealth Games, hosting both Swimming and Diving events at both Edinburgh 1970 and Edinburgh 1986 as well as the Diving events at Glasgow 2014.

With 94 medals: 25 gold, 32 silver and 37 bronze, Aquatics leads Athletics and Boxing as Scotland’s most successful sport at the Commonwealth Games. While Australia dominate in Swimming and are a close second behind Canada in Diving, Scotland sit 4th on the all-time medal table for Diving and 5th for Swimming, having won medals at every Games with the exception of Edmonton 1978 and Auckland 1990.

Diver Sir Peter Heatly holds the prestigious position of being Aquatics’ most successful athlete, winning three gold, one silver and one bronze for Scotland over three Commonwealth Games. His grandson, James Heatly, was the first Scot to win a Diving medal in since his grandfather 60 years previously. At Gold Coast 2018, Duncan Scott became the most successful athlete in history at a single Games as he took six medals, including gold in the 100m Freestyle.

Sean Fraser was Scotland’s first Para-Swimming medallist with silver in the S8 100m Freestyle at Delhi 2010, after para-sport events were first included at the Manchester 2002 Games. Lauren Smith remains Scotland’s only Synchronised Swimming medallist to date with bronze in the Solo event, also at Delhi 2010.

Find out more about Aquatics in the Commonwealth Games, including the competition format, rules and equipment on our dedicated Aquatics page.

Scotland’s Commonwealth Champions

While Scotland’s swimmers won five medals at the inaugural Games in 1930, a gold medal proved elusive. Scotland’s first Commonwealth champion in the pool came in 1934, quickly followed by the second, as William Francis and Norman Hamilton won gold in the 100 yards and 200 yards Backstroke respectively. No gold in 1938 and the cancellation of the 1942 and 1946 Games due to World War II meant it was 1950 before a Scot returned to the top step of the podium. Those Auckland Games gave Scotland its first female Swimming champion in Elenor Gordon and first Diving title courtesy of Peter Heatly and both would go on to win a further two gold medals. At the 1954 Games, Elenor defended her 220 yards Breaststroke title and took Medley Relay victory alongside Margaret Girvan and Margaret McDowall, while Peter missed out in the defence of his 10m Platform title, taking bronze, but won 3m Springboard gold instead. In 1958 he recaptured his 10m Platform crown to complete his Commonwealth Games haul, Ian Black Scotland’s other gold medallist in the pool at those Games with victory in the 220 yards Butterfly.

Gold medals proved hard to come by in the following decades with David Wilkie’s 200m Breaststroke and 200m IM double in 1974 the only … until Alison Sheppard took 50m Freestyle gold in 2002 to kick start a run of Scottish victories over subsequent Games. Since then there has been a Scot on the top step of the podium at every Games, Melbourne 2006 being the most successful Games in history for Aquatics as David Carry, Gregor Tait and Caitlin McClatchey all took double gold. Robbie Renwick took the 200m Freestyle title at Delhi 2010, where Hannah Miley won the first of her two 400m IM titles, going on to defend at Glasgow 2014 and narrowly miss out on a third in Gold Coast, taking silver. The Glasgow 2014 Games gave us memorable wins for Dan Wallace and Ross Murdoch, while at Gold Coast 2018 Duncan Scott became the first Scot to take 100m Freestyle gold and Grace Reid won Scotland’s first Diving gold for 60 years and a first medal of any colour in the women’s events.

Team Scotland Aquatics Gold Medallists

London 1934 William Francis, Norman Hamilton
Auckland 1950 Peter Heatly, Elenor Gordon
Vancouver 1954 Peter Heatly, Elenor Gordon (x2), Margaret Girvan, Margaret McDowall
Cardiff 1958 Ian Black, Peter Heatly
Christchurch 1974 David Wilkie (x2)
Manchester 2002 Alison Sheppard
Melbourne 2006 David Carry (x2), Gregor Tait (x2), Caitlin McClatchey (x2)
Delhi 2010 Robbie Renwick, Hannah Miley
Glasgow 2014 Ross Murdoch, Daniel Wallace, Hannah Miley
Gold Coast 2018 Grace Reid, Duncan Scott

Click here for a full list of Team Scotland’s Aquatics medallists

Youth Games Success

At the Commonwealth Youth Games, just as in the main Games, Swimming is a core sport while Diving is optional, with the latter yet to be included at a Youth Games. Swimming is Scotland’s most successful sport at the Youth Games, with an impressive record of 75 medals over six Games and at least one gold at every Games since 2004.

Many swimmers, including Hannah Miley, Robbie Renwick, Andrew Hunter, Todd Cooper, Lewis Smith and Kirsty Balfour competed in the Youth Games before going on to compete and win medals for Team Scotland in the Commonwealth Games. Craig Benson held the title of Scotland’s most successful Youth Games athlete of all-time with four medals at the 2011 Isle of Man Youth Games until his tally was surpassed by Scott McLay with five medals at Bahamas 2017, including three gold.

Scotland at the Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games is the only occasion where Scotland gets to compete in a multi-sport event as a nation in its own right and is one of only six countries to have competed in every Commonwealth Games since their inception in Hamilton in 1930. Represented by 15 athletes participating in six sports at those first Games, winning a very creditable 10 medals, Scotland have gone on to win medals at every Games since.

Edinburgh became the first city to hold the Games twice in 1970 and 1986 and also became the first city to host the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Scotland hosted the Games for a third time when Glasgow welcomed athletes and officials to the XXth Commonwealth Games which was held from 23rd July – 3rd August 2014. Team Scotland celebrated their most successful Games in history, winning a total of 53 medals and went on to record their highest overseas medal tally ever at Gold Coast 2018.

Find out more about the Commonwealth Games and Team Scotland’s past success in our Past Games section.

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