Scottish swimmer Dan Wallace has had his ups and downs over the past year, but is hoping a training base move will help inject his career with the special formula needed to make his mark in Rio this summer.
Having trained at the University of Florida under Gregg Troy for the past 5 years, Wallace has moved closer to home, now training out of Millfield, the same club from which World Champion James Guy hails.
Although Wallace stood atop the podium at the World Championships last year as part of Great Britain’s historic gold medal-winning 4x200m freestyle relay, his performances at both the British Olympic Trials and European Championships this year were lackluster in comparison. In fact, the 23-year-old almost didn’t make his nation’s roster at all for Rio.
While competing in Glasgow at GBR’s Trials, Wallace could never get his rhythm, failing to even final in the men’s 400m freestyle. Wallace followed that up with a 6th place finish in the 200m IM and 3rd in the 400m IM, with neither performance resulting in a time which cleared the stiff British qualifying standard. Wallace also wound up off the podium in the men’s 200m freestyle, finishing 7th and well-off his time from Kazan last summer.
However, after the dust of Trials settled, Wallace was one of the British coaching staff’s discretionary picks to make the squad and indeed will be in Rio this summer representing Great Britain.
In an interview with the Herald Scotland, Wallace acknowledged how close he was to watching the Games from Scotland as opposed to actually competing. “I wasn’t sure if I’d done enough,” he said. “But the fact my team-mates and support staff and British Swimming believed in me and know I can be great again in Rio was a real confidence booster, to see they still had faith that I can be an asset to the team.”
On his move to Millfield, Wallace commented, “I’ve had to really re-evaluate where I want to go with my swimming and to change a few things. It was a big jump to pack my bags in Florida and move back to the UK but I’m doing everything I can to be at my best in Rio. And I’ve no doubt I can. I’ve got strong support in the UK, with my training base and my family as well. My coaches know what I need to do to be at my best. But it’s good to be home and have that focus ahead of the Olympics.”
“There is definitely a big risk to change things four months out from the Games but if you want to get special results, you need to take special risks and give it everything you can,” he says. “There is a risk but I feel it will bring me out to positive results.”
Wallace put his new training to the test at the recent Mare Nostrum stops in Canet and Barcelona last week. In Canet, Wallace finished in 4th place overall in both of the IM events, clocking a 4:21.56 in the 400 and 2:01.44 in the 200. He also finished 8th in the men’s freestyle in 1:50.85.
Wallace’s times were similar in Barcelona, where he touched in a distance 2nd behind Japan’s Kosuke Hagino in the men’s 200 IM in 2:01.07 and finished out of the finals in the 200 freestyle in a mark of 1:50.36.
The onesie-wearing Scot is most likely in the midst of his last burst of heavy training leading up to the Rio Olympic Games, as reflected in Wallace’s Mare Nostrum times. However, Great Britain will need the former Gator to break through the rough patch that has been his 2016 thus far if they want a chance to potentially stun the world in the men’s relay once again, this time at the Olympic Games.