Former Duns swimmer sets his sights on an Olympic medal

Dan Wallace.
Dan Wallace.

Dan Wallace hopes to make his family and friends proud this summer by winning an Olympic medal as part of the Team GB swimming squad in Rio.

The 23-year-old, who began his swimming career at Duns Amateur Swimming Club whislt attending Chirnside Primary School, was one of three ‘wildcard’ picks by coaches after he missed the Olympic qualifying time.

“Going as a wildcard definitely isn’t how I wanted to be selected for the team but it does show that the team believes I can bring something and make a difference by being there,” he told the Berwickshire News. “I don’t see it as any added pressure but I do understand the expectations the team and my country has of me and my aim is to make them proud.”

Dan is one of eight Scottish swimmers out a team of 26 named to go to Rio de Janeiro this summer to compete for Great Britain.

Studying on a sport scholarship to the University of Florida, Dan now trains with the Florida Gators, coached by Gregg Troy, and is the only Scottish swimmer selected for the Rio Olympic Games who does not train in the UK.

He added: “Over the past few years I’ve shown that I can compete with the best in the world so my aim for this Olympics is to fly home with some medals around my neck.”

Dan believes that the time is right for him to compete for Great Britain in the Olympic Games.

He said: “I’ve gained so much experience over the last few years and I now feel confident enough that I have all the experience I need. I have a natural racing edge and that is what’s helped me be so successful over the years.”

The Commonwealth gold medallist and 2015 world champion will not be the only Duns ASC alumnus to fly off to Rio this summer. Ben Higson, who works as a coach at the University of Stirling and is originally from Coldingham, has been selected to be a pool-side coach for the games.

Duns ASC has a history of producing world class swimmers including double silver Commonwealth medallist and 2012 Beijing Olympian Euan Dale (30) from Abbey St Bathans.

Duns Swimming Pool manager Kirsty Inkpen told the Berwickshire News:“I think it’s an amazing achievement. For a small place, to have so many Olympians coming out of it is wonderful.”

Speaking about what first inspired him to take up competitive swimming, Dan named his mother, Tanya, as one of his biggest influences over the years. As a child, he soon found a passion for competitive sports.

Joyce Waddell was the childhood coach of both Dan Wallace and Euan Dale before her retirement from Duns ASC. Reacting to Dan’s selection, she said: “It’s fantastic. He worked really hard when he was wee. I had him for five or six years and Euan was his idol. They both wanted to go to the Olympics.”

Dan said that he takes his motivation from seeing how far he has advanced in the sport, how his successes inspire people and how proud his family and friends are of him.

The first swimming heats of the Rio Olympic Games are scheduled to take place on August 6 at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Barra da Tijuca.