Duncan Scott On Equality Of Opportunity And Realising Potential Amid Calls For Funding Of Under-Threat Pools

Duncan Scott Sheffield
Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

Duncan Scott On Equality Of Opportunity And Realising Potential Amid Calls For Funding Of Under-Threat Pools

Duncan Scott wants children to have the same access to opportunities which has led to him claiming Olympic and world titles with the future of swimming pools increasingly under threat.

Scott has long thrown his weight behind the #SaveOurPools campaign which highlights the importance of pools and the leisure sector and aims to secure long-term investment from the government.

The Scot – who became the first British athlete to win four medals at a single Olympics in Tokyo – is a Scottish Swimming learn to swim ambassador.

Now the three-time world champion has renewed his call for action ahead of a Parliamentary reception in Edinburgh on Wednesday 29 March.

Scott, who is coached by Steven Tigg at the University of Stirling, won’t be attending given the event’s proximity to him travelling to the British Championships in Sheffield, which double as the trials for the World Championships.

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

Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

The 25-year-old’s own swimming odyssey started in a local pool in Troon where his father Nigel would take the young Scott and his sister Alexandria.

Memories of those early years in the pool include doing handstands in the shallow end of the very type of leisure centre that is today under threat.

Scott told Swimming World:

“I really struggled with the whole idea of keeping water out of your nose (doing handstands) so the second I went upside down, there’s all sorts going on.

“It was a local leisure pool and that’s where I learned how to do all the sort of basic things while I was trying to compete with my sister who was far better than me at all of it.”

He’s gone on to stand at the very pinnacle of the sport with Olympic 4×200 gold in Tokyo but that wouldn’t have happened if he’d not have been able to access a pool, something all young people should have in order to learn about themselves in and out of the water.

Scott said:

“Absolutely. I think at a young age it’s so crucial. I’m obviously a huge advocate for swimming but I think leisure centres as a whole are really struggling and obviously pools are at the forefront of that because on their own the heating costs are extortionate.

“But all sports at a young age – I am a huge fan of people doing multiple number of different sports throughout the week whether that’s rugby, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, whatever.

“I think through that you learn so much about social skills, learning with people of similar ages as you, interactions with people not in your school environment but through a sporting context where competition is high and emotions can be up and down.

“I think that is a huge learning as well, the challenges that are faced either learning new drills, skills etc.

“Then on top of that, if we are just looking at swimming, it is a life skill so the importance of refamiliarising yourself with different attributes each week – whether that’s learning freestyle kick or smaller elements like that. Slowly looking back over a year it’d be like ‘geez, look how much this six-year-olds learned’.

“I think it’s the journey that goes on but the social element as well that kids really need to have access to it.”

Duncan Scott

Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Speedo

For Scott, “swimming has been my whole life” and he credits it with teaching him resilience, determination, consistency and patience as well as leadership skills and humility in victory and defeat.

Now thousands of children face being denied the chance to realise their potential.

Scott said:

“I’m not here to say that everyone should go on and try to be an Olympian – that’s not the point of this at all.

“It’s more to look at the life skill of swimming, making sure as many people leave school able to swim and also I think just raising the participation of swimming in general.

“Maybe changing the awareness of the sport – I think it’s deemed you need to train a lot, it’s early hours – etc etc – whereas that’s only for the very few. I think there’s plenty that do it as a hobby whether that’s through open water or simply going down to local leisure centres to go for a swim.

“There’s many different ways in which you can keep going but I think at that really stage is when kids learn the most and I think when it’s left out you see so many people that are afraid to jump in the pool at an older age and I think that’s when it really starts to get a little bit more serious.”

Scottish Swimming released a statement earlier this month welcoming the UK Government’s decision to release £63million of investment to support leisure centres and pools.

As a result of the Budget, the Scottish Government will receive £320million from the UK Treasury in Barnett consequentials, a formula whereby the UK Government ensures that a share of additional funding – allocated only to England – is provided fairly to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The governing body has urged the Scottish Government to match on a pro rata basis an equivalent fund specifically to support leisure centres and swimming pools as vital community assets.

Scott said:

“It’s about raising awareness of learning to swim but also saving our pools up and down the country; they’re coming under massive fire down south (in England).

“They’ve been given a funding pot – weirdly split up – but hopefully with what’s gone on down there they’re able to realise that there’s plenty of good in what they’re providing down in England and hopefully they’re able to do the same up here because if not, it’s going to be plenty of communities suffering and leisure centres suffering as well.”


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