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Great BritainGreat Britain, GBR


Further Personal Information

Date of birth
14 January 1994
183 cm
Partner Andrea Rose-Wilson Gaffney
Stirling, SCO
Higher education
Exercise Science, Sports Science - University of Stirling: Scotland

Sport Specific Information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He learnt to swim at age four at his local pool in the Vale of Leven, Scotland, and started getting into competitive swimming at age eight. "I just took to the water straight away. It was always going to be swimming for me."
Why this sport?
"I had trained at the West Dunbartonshire club since I was 13 but I always wanted to focus on school. It was my coach, Jimmy Orr, who sat me down and told me if I wanted to make it in the sport then I had to take things much more seriously. The 22nd of August 2011 was the day that my life changed. I stepped up training and that first week was great. Then I hit a wall and I was in so much pain, but when I started complaining Jimmy just asked me, 'What do you want?'. I had watched the Commonwealths in Delhi and the Olympics in London on television and I wanted to be one of the people taking part."
Club / Team
University of Stirling Swimming Club: Scotland
Name of coach
Steve Tigg [club]; Bill Furniss [national]
Training Regime
He spends 18-20 hours in the pool and does three gym sessions per week.

International Debut

Competing for
Great Britain

General Interest

Playing pool and darts, listening to music, watching Formula One, listening to music, cooking. (, 11 Oct 2017; The Scotsman Youtube channel, 02 Aug 2018)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the 200m breaststroke at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. (, 06 Jan 2018)
Most influential person in career
His father, and coaches David Duncan and Scott Oliver. (, 14 Apr 2015; The Scotsman Youtube channel, 02 Aug 2018)
Hero / Idol
Hungarian swimmer Daniel Gyurta, Japanese swimmer Kosuke Kitajima. (, 15 Mar 2012)
In January 2017 he suffered a back injury after returning home from a weekend trip to Skye, Scotland, which he attributed to long hours spent driving and outdoor activities. "[After returning home] my back was gone. I bent down to pick up my kit bag and it just popped. I thought I was in trouble, I couldn't walk. It was a bit of a nightmare but the physio got me back on track." He returned to competition at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. (, 01 Apr 2018; SportsDeskOnline, 01 Jan 2018)

A chest infection forced him to withdraw from the 2014 World Short Course Championships in Doha, Qatar. (, 02 Dec 2014)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Do or do not, there is no try." (, 24 Mar 2014)
Awards and honours
He received the Nancy Riach Memorial Medal from Scotland Swimming in 2014 and 2015. The honour is presented to the athlete who best enhanced or upheld the prestige of Scottish Swimming over the year. (, 20 Sep 2015, 13 Sep 2014)

In 2014 he was named Sports Personality of the Year at the Scottish Sports Awards. (, 08 Dec 2014)
To compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. (, 08 Dec 2018)
Other information
He contemplated retiring after he failed to qualify for the 100m breaststroke final at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "There absolutely was a time when I didn't think I was going to come back. I thought, 'I don't want to go through that again. I really don't want to build myself up for four years and then have this thing that you thought was going to be the pinnacle of your sporting career be so underwhelming'. It wasn't until March last year [2017] that I found a love for swimming again. There was a day when I sat down with my coach and my psychologist and my nutritionist and I was like, 'Right, I'm just letting you know that I'm screwing the nut and I'm going to make it'. I like the structure of swimming, I like the discipline, I enjoy racing, I want to compete. Competitiveness is in my blood and I need to do it." (, 30 Mar 2018;, 06 Jan 2018)

He describes the community estate he grew up in as a difficult area, and says he will consider a career in the police service after swimming in order to give back to the community. "I always wanted to join the police when I was younger. I grew up in Alexandria. I was on an estate called Tullichewan in the Vale of Leven. At the time it wasn't too great. There were a lot of youth gangs roaming around. One time I got off a bus and was hit by a brick. It hit me in the leg. That was the type of stuff that happened. I thought about the police as it was a positive way I could affect the community. I didn't come from a particularly affluent background. I grew up in an ex-council house my granny bought before she died. That's the sort of upbringing I had. I wouldn't change it for the world. My mum and dad were fantastic for me and crafted me into the man I am today - and so did that community. I would love to be able to give something back and to feel like I'm making a positive difference. [Joining the police] is something I'll definitely consider going forwards when I finish swimming." (, 01 Apr 2018)

He could not afford a proper swimming suit until age 18, when he began receiving funding from Scottish Swimming. "I never actually had a proper racing suit till I was 18. That was when I was funded by Scottish Swimming and I could get the money back for buying one. The suits had been too expensive, so I would turn up for races in trunks I'd been wearing for months. They were baggy but I was still racing PBs. To be honest I didn't need anything else. I prided myself on being that guy who didn't need the racing trunks, the fancy suit or the money. I could do my best in my trunks and that's all that mattered to me. I swam because I enjoyed it and I liked the camaraderie. I've actually still got that first suit. It was a Speedo LZR suit. It had red seams in it. It was one size too big because it was cheaper." (, 01 Apr 2018)