Duncan Scott Talks The Highs And Lows Of Olympic Year On The Eve Of British Trials

18th April 2021, London Aquatics Centre, London, England ; 2021 British Swimming Selection Trials Duncan Scott
Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

Duncan Scott Talks The Highs And Lows Of Olympic Year On The Eve Of British Trials

Duncan Scott became Great Britain’s most decorated Olympic medallist at a single Games when he won four medals in Tokyo.

Three years on, the Scot is looking to make his third Olympic team with the trials running from Tuesday 2 to Sunday 7 April at the Aquatics Centre in London.

The six-day Aquatics GB Swimming Championships will feature an integrated Olympic and Paralympic programme featuring the likes of Adam Peaty, Tom Dean, Maisie Summers-Newton and Alice Tai at the venue which hosted the pool competition at the 2012 Olympics.

For Scott, Paris comes eight years after his Olympic debut at Rio 2016 where he won two relay silvers with the men’s 4x200m free and 4x100m medley.

Duncan Scott Tom Dean

Tom Dean & Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

The 26-year-old, coached at the University of Stirling by Steve Tigg, followed that up five years later in Tokyo with gold in the 4×2 plus silvers in the 200 free – behind Dean who headed a British 1-2 – 200IM and men’s medley relay.

Scott first reached the senior international podium back at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, since when he has also won armfuls of World and European medals.

The most recent addition to his collection came at the 2024 World Championships in Doha where he won bronze with the mixed medley relay after swimming the fly leg in prelims.

That accompanied his sixth-place finishes in the 200IM and 200 free plus fourth in the 4×200 and 4×100 free, where he anchored the quartet in 47.37, the second-fastest split in the field with only Pan Zhanle and his 46.80 WR on lead-off for winners China surpassing him.

That earned the GB quartet an Olympic berth at the February meet bypassed by many who would be expected to be on the Paris podium – including the likes of Leon Marchand and David Popovici – with others including Scott unrested.

With Doha navigated, eyes immediately turned to the trials and, should they be safely negotiated, on to Paris 2024.

Come the Olympics and the intensity of the spotlight is unparalleled, exposing the highest of highs and lowest of lows and everything in between.

Scott said:

“Probably the best thing about the Olympic year is that it’s the pinnacle of our sport.

“And it’s an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of some of my heroes and people that I’ve looked up to from past Olympic Games.

“So, yeah, that’s the best part.”

18th April 2021, London Aquatics Centre, London, England ; 2021 British Swimming Selection Trials

Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

He added:

“The worst part? Probably straight after the Olympic Games.

“That’s because what everyone thinks is how jolly it is and how nice it is.

“But how many people leave an Olympic Games succeeding?

“You know, such a minute number.

“So many people get the Olympic blues which is a real thing and some people find that quite challenging.

“I think it was 36 hours from when I touched the wall in Tokyo and to (get to) my own flat in Stirling.

“I turned on the cycling the next morning and I’m like ‘oh, was that competition yesterday?’

“I think that’s probably the worst part about the Olympics, just the complete cut-off straightaway which can be quite tough for a lot of athletes.”

Racing Preview

Scott will compete in the 100 and 200 free and the 200IM, meeting Dean in all three events.

The depth of the men’s freestyle in Britain is among the strongest in the world with Scott and Dean to be joined in the 200 by Matt Richards – winner of the four-length title at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka ahead of Dean – James Guy, Jacob Whittle and Joe Litchfield.

Richards will also go in the 50 free where he’ll meet Ben Proud – the man with every title bar the Olympics – and Lewis Burras.


Adam Peaty: Photo Courtesy: Aaron Okayama, Speedo

Peaty is the fastest seed in the 100m breaststroke with his 58.60 from the Doha semis before he went on to take bronze in the final.

Given the 2016 and 2021 Olympic champion arrived in Doha unrested and coming off a tough training block, this week will give a true indication as to where his form lies, less than four months before the start of the Games.

Luke Greenbank and Oli Morgan meet in the 100 and 200 back, Max Litchfield returns to the national  championships in the 200 free and 200/400IM and Guy and Jacob Peters will go head to head in the 100 fly.

Freya Anderson will make a last-minute decision on her involvement with her focus on her recovery from glandular fever.

Laura Stephens and Freya Colbert arrive at the Aquatics Centre as world champions having won the 200 fly and 400IM respectively in Doha.

Stephens goes in the 100 and 200 fly as she seeks to make her second Olympic team after finishing 10th in the longer race in Tokyo.

Colbert is entered into the 100/200 free and the two IMs and will be fastest into the 200 free should Anderson be absent.

Abbie Wood, who won silver with Colbert in the 4×2 in Doha, goes in the 100/200 free and 200IM in which she was fourth in Tokyo.

Katie Shanahan goes in the 200 back, in which she’s the European silver medallist, as well as the 200/400IM.

The women’s 100 back promises to be a real tussle with Lauren Cox and Kathleen Dawson – fifth and sixth respectively in Doha – and Medi Harris the fastest three seeds.

Hopkin leads the way in the 50 free entries although she is followed by two youngsters in Skye Carter and Eva Okaro, both of whom show great promise.

Women 50m Freestyle Medal ceremony

Skye Carter: Photo Courtesy: Istvan Derencsenyi/LEN

Carter won 50 free bronze among three medals at the 2023 European Juniors, teaming up with Okaro as the British 4×100 free quartet finished third.

Okaro also claimed 50 free bronze at the 2021 edition, coming away with silver and bronze in relays.

Amelie Blocksidge is another youngster hinting at a fine future, marking her 14th birthday with the 1500 free title at last year’s national championships in 16:19 before going on to win silver at the European juniors.

Blocksidge, who turns 15 on 9 April, is entered into the 200/400/800/1500 as well as the 400IM.

Qualification Criteria

A maximum of 30 athletes will be nominated to Team GB for Paris.

The winner of each race will be nominated for selection provided they record a time equal to or better than the standards in the table below.

The second-place finisher will be considered subject to the overall team size and relay qualifiers.

They must also record a time that equals or betters the nomination standard in the open final of that event.

There’s also the possibility of discretionary picks made by national performance director Chris Spice and head coach Bill Furniss.


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