Junior swimming sensation Dan Wallace will kick-start his senior career later this year by training with some of the fastest swimmers in the world.
Wallace, a second member with Duns ASC, will go stateside in August to take up a swimming scholarship at one of America’s most distinguished sporting universities - the University of Florida.
There, the former Chirnside primary school pupil will compete for top college team the Florida Gators, along side Olympic swimmers past, present and future, including world record holder (200 and 400m IM) and six-times Olympic medalist Ryan Lochtie.
Proud mum Tanya Wallace said: “This is such a wonderful opportunity for Dan - it’s a dream come true for him.”
Wallace was first coached by Joyce Waddell at Duns, before switching to Warrender Baths when the family moved from Chirnside to North Berwick.
As a member of the World Class development London, Rio and Beyond programme, a programme awarded to swimmers who British Swimming think could qualify for either the 2012 Olympics in London, or the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Wallace could potentially become the second Olympic swimmer to come out of Duns, following in the wake of Beijing 2008 competitor Euan Dale.
The programme will give him better access to sports science and sports medicine services.
Ahead of his American adventure, Wallace will take on the best swimmers in Europe in July after making it through to the European Junior Swimming Championships in Serbia.
Having enjoyed 10 days’ training in Dubai with the British Development team in January, the 17-year-old returned to star in the British Gas Swimming Championships in Manchester earlier this month, where he earned his spot in the Great Britain team for the championships for the second year running.
Taking part in the 400m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 200m breaststroke and both the 200 and 400m individual medleys, Wallace was unfazed when going up against competitors much older and more experienced than himself, and the rising young star, who is coached by at Warrender by Laurel Bailey, more than held his own in the tournament.
He turned in some storming performances in the butterfly, setting a new lifetime best of 56 seconds to reach the semi-final stage.
But it was in the 200m individual medley, Wallace’s strongest event, that he really made waves. Again he impressed in reaching the semis and then managed another lifetime best of two minutes, three seconds - a time good enough to book his place in the squad for Serbia.
And he wasn’t finished there, with his exceptional semi-final time booking him a place in his first senior final.
Competing against Commonwealth and Olympic medallists, Wallace posted a fantastic time of 2.03.60 to prove his undoubted potential.
He now has the trip to Serbia to look forward to in the summer - before which he will train with the Great Britain team in Barcelona - and he will be hoping to do even better than he did in Helsinki at last year’s championships.
At Helsinki 2010 Wallace reached the finals of the 200m and 400m individual medleys, finishing fifth and sixth respectively against the top young swimmers in Europe. This time round he has medals in his sights.
Wallace’s distinguished junior career will come to an end soon after the Europeans, with his final under 18 competition due to be the British Youth Championships in Sheffield at the end of July.
He’ll then jet across the Atlantic to take up the opportunity-of-a-lifetime scholarship the following month. Wallace will study a four-year graphics design course during his time in Gainesville.