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Teenagers Scott and Keanna off to the Gold Coast


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When the first two squads that are to be part of Team Scotland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April next year were named earlier this week a number of household names jumped out of the list.

At the press gathering in Stirling names such as Hannah Miley and Ross Murdoch were grabbing the swimming attention while lawn bowls legends Alex Marshall and Paul Foster were also  the talk of the room.

However, dig a bit deeper into the list and teenage swimmers Scott McLay  and Keanna MacInnes’ names were beaming off of the page.

What an achievement for this duo, they have both had amazing 2017s and rightly been rewarded for it.

McLay, 18, stole the headlines in the summer when he won five medals at the Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games, including three golds.

Scott McLay

He began swimming at Perth City Swim Club and then moved on to Strathallan School and recently started studying at the University of Stirling.

“At the beginning of last season, I sat down with my coach Ann Dickson and we set out some goals. I put Gold Coast down there as something to strive for but I didn’t think I would be going,” McLay admits.

“It was just there to give me a target, but then I went to the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas where I didn’t expect to do as well as I did.

“However, we had a great team and had great support and I came away with five medals. I was just hoping with every race I came through that I was getting quick enough to go to the Gold Coast.”

How will he feel being in a team alongside some big names as well as competing against world class athletes?

“This will be my first international senior meet so it is just something else to tackle,” he stated.

“I moved to Stirling University a few weeks ago to train with [coach] Steven Tigg and alongside the likes of Ross Murdoch, Craig Benson and Duncan Scott.

“They have a great set up there and it is great to be working alongside them and making sure that my technique gets better and my tactics get better. If I keep putting that in place then I feel I will be able to compete.

“I have always been around older, more senior swimmers with Scotland so I know some of the guys and I just need to make sure that this transition from juniors to seniors goes well.”

MacInnes, the 16-year-old Heart of Midlothian athlete, has had a dream few months.

Keanna MacInnes

Firstly the Firrhill High School S5 pupil beat Olympian Miley in a 200m butterfly race back in July and then she picked up a bronze medal at the FINA World Junior Championships in the USA in August.

In that Indianapolis meet in the 200m butterfly she broke the Scottish junior record twice, posting 2:09.64 in the final to finish third for Great Britain.

MacInnes said:  “I knew that I had a chance of making it, but with so many quality older competitors around I knew it would be tough.

“So to hear that I was going to the Commonwealth Games was a bit of a shock, but once I calmed down I was over the moon as were my family and friends.

“Being so young and still at school it is quite hard to take in that I will be part of Team Scotland, but I have a few months to now get my head down and really train hard and get used to the idea.

“The great thing is that I already know quite a  few of the other team members and the other girls who are more experienced like Hannah have always been very nice and have given me tips and pointers.”

MacInnes also believes the scale of the World Junior Championships a couple of months ago will help her ahead of the trip down under.

She explained:  “There was a lot of pressure in America because I was representing Great Britain and I was up against a lot of quality swimmers who I had not come up against before.

“After my heat swim I felt very relaxed and felt that if I just stuck to the processes that had got me that far then I could medial.

“I managed to and I think it gave me confidence and has shown me how to prepare for meets and races as I get ready to head to the Gold Coast.”

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