DAN WALLACE admits that there were times during the summer when he was serving a suspension from both the British and Scottish swimming programmes after being convicted of a drink driving offence that he considered taking the easy option and walked away from swimming for good.
The Glasgow 2014 gold medallist missed the 2017 World Championships due to his three-month ban but he believes that having overcome his ordeal, he is in a better position as a result of it.
“There were definitely times when I could have just hung up the goggles and that would have made things a lot easier for me,” the 24 year-old, who won Olympic relay silver in Rio last year, said. “I did think: ’Ok, I’ve had a great career, just move on’.
“But I wanted to prove that I could come back from it. It is easy to do well when you are doing well but it is really hard to do well after you’ve had a bad time.
“I saw it as a challenge to try to pick myself up and it was hard, I would overcome one hurdle and there would be a new one the next day and that went on for a good few months but the worst is behind me now and it is just about running with the momentum that I have now.”
In less than four months, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will kick off and Wallace will defend his 400m individual medal title that he won at Glasgow. In 2014, the Edinburgh swimmer had few expectations upon his shoulders whereas this time around, having established himself as a world-class swimmer when at his best, there is far greater pressure.
Despite the fact that last season was one of the poorest seasons of his career, Wallace is confident that not only will he cope with the addition pressure at Gold Coast 2018, he is sure that he will positively flourish under it.
“I have always thrived in high pressure situations but this is a unique experience for me because I have never defended a title,” he said. “The Glasgow Commie Games was a first for me, the World Champs a first and the Olympics a first.
“But Gold Coast is second time round and, for me, it’s about going there to try to defend my title but I’m also going there with a slightly different mentality. I have done it before so now I’m thinking: ‘What else can I get out of this situation?’ ‘How else can I look at it?’ ‘What other experiences can I take away from it as a more experienced swimmer?’”
This weekend, Wallace will make his last competitive outing of the year, at the Scottish Short-Course Championships at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, before the final preparations for Gold Coast begin in the new year and while he admits to being hugely excited about what lies ahead for him, he is also aware that he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning and as a result, wants to make sure that he leaves a lasting impression on the sport when he does eventually hang up his goggles for good. “I am thinking about the kind of person I want to be when I leave the sport and what can I leave as a legacy in the sport,” he said.
“For me, it’s about leaving as big a hole as you can for someone else to fill. That is what my role models in the sport have done for me and I will hopefully be someone else’s role model.
“Everything I do reflects on others so it is about making sure that when I leave the sport, I have done everything I can.”