Olympic swimming star celebrates graduation ahead of Tokyo Games

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Duncan Scott

British Olympian Duncan Scott swapped his swimming gear for a scroll this week after graduating from the University of Stirling.

The swimming star, who will leave for Japan next week as part of Team GB, received a 2:1 in Business and Sports Studies after juggling his degree with a record-breaking career in the pool.

Scott, 24, who broke two British freestyle records whilst qualifying for the Tokyo Games, has been part of Stirling’s Sports Scholarship Programme for the last six years, giving him the flexibility to balance his degree with training.

The sports champion, who has dyslexia, says despite his successes in the pool, completing his degree is amongst his top achievements.

“One of the things I’m most proud of, in all honesty, is getting a 2:1,” he said. “I didn’t really enjoy school, being dyslexic, and having to balance it with swimming. The first and second years at university, I did find challenging, but by the third, I really started to enjoy it.

“I might decide after the next Olympic cycle that I want to come back and do a Masters, I’m not ruling that out. For the next cycle up until 2024, I want to focus on swimming and becoming the best athlete that I can be. But beyond that, I might fall back on my degree and do a Masters. I’ve enjoyed sport governance, sports management and marketing and international business.”

Duncan Scott

Duncan Scott graduates from the University of Stirling

Scott, who won two silver medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016, started swimming at the age of eight at his local pool in Alloa, Clackmannanshire. He began competing at the age of 14 and chose to develop his sports career further at Stirling thanks to team coach Steven Tigg.

“Steven Tigg is someone I’d worked with since I was eight or nine,” Scott said. “I always enjoyed his sessions. From there, it was a simple decision – if I’m going to be swimming, why don’t I do a degree as well?”

Sports scholarships at Stirling allow students to train and compete in professional sport while gaining a degree.

Scott said: “Balancing the degree and training was sometimes difficult, but I’m really grateful to the University for how flexible they were. I was able to study part-time, which was crucial in allowing me to excel at certain points in the year and be at my best. At other times, instead of exams, I had the potential to do an essay instead, while I was away competing.”

Tokyo Games

Scott, who is one of five University of Stirling swimmers competing in the pool for Team GB in Tokyo, is hoping this summer doesn’t just mark success for him with his studies.

He said: “The run up to the Olympics is a lot different to any other international meet for swimming because the hype around it is just so vast, which is really exciting. When you visualise and think about the actual races, you get butterflies, but it’s more excitement about what could happen and what you’re wanting to achieve.

“Fortunately, I’m a part of some really successful relay teams –  we came second in the 4x1 Medley in Rio, we were world champions in 2019, so we want to try and be head to head with the Americans and Russians. We’ve got a great opportunity in the Men’s 4x2 and in the Men’s 4x1 – we’ve got a really young team so the potential is really high.

“For me, the two individuals I’ll be looking to do are the 200m Freestyle and the 200m Individual Medley. The 200m Free is always really tight. In 2019, it was my first individual medal, getting bronze. I didn’t really enjoy the way I swam the race then and, since then, I’ve swum it a lot better so I think I have to go in there with a lot of confidence. The 200m IM is not one I’ve swum much internationally, but I’ve improved a lot on it and, again, it’s one I’ve got nothing to lose on.”

More than 2,300 students will graduate from the University of Stirling this summer, including from its partnership institutions in Vietnam, Singapore, UAE and Oman. The University announced earlier this year that its in-person graduations in 2021 would be postponed due to COVID-19.

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