The tension is rising and with two weeks of sunshine under his belt our tartan loving swim hero Dan Wallace is into the final few days of preparation before racing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games begins. We asked him a few questions including "What is so good about tartan?"
The Wallace's are a close knit bunch and Dan's mum and wee sister follow him around a lot, taking in the Olympics in Rio and other less exotic locations. The whole family were poolside to cheer at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, however the trouble with Australia is that it is rather far away, so the current plan is to watch on TV. However Dan did say his Mum is very spontaneous so you never know and just imagine his delight if he were to look up and see her in the crowd. As part of a family tradition laid down by their grandparents both Dan and his brother received kilts for their 18th birthdays and this was a ritual they looked forward to from a young age, going to the kilt shop and picking out their preferred version of the Wallace tartan (Ancient for Dan and Modern for Mat). "We are a very Scottish family, proud to have a very Scottish name and my family can't wait to see me in my suit. I remember my dad, he always had a Wallace tartan and whenever we were at family events or weddings or ceremonies they would always be wearing their tartans so as I was growing up, I couldn’t wait 'til I had my own kilt." Dan_Wallace_Duns_ASCThe Wallace's are a family of swimmers and their connection with our hometown of Duns is a close one as Duns Amateur Swimming Club was where Dan began his career age 9. Our founder Anna's 2 children now swim at the club and Dan popped back to share his wisdom and let the next generation of swimmers spend some time in the pool with an Olympian. While Dan's siblings branched off into other sports their backing has always been very important and at age 15 he knew he wanted to commit to swimming and try to be the best in the world.
Although it is me standing out there on the block I am doing it for them as well. They know they have all played a big part in how got there.
The story of the tartan suit began with an innocent Instagram post suggesting that following the kilt in Glasgow Dan would need a new outfit for the next Commonwealth Games.
Having decided to move away from the Wallace tartan, the choice of over 500 tartans was a bit overwhelming and it took a while to figure out which one to use. "At first I was overwhelmed with the choice and the variety and the different looks you could get with each tartan. The bright colours reached out to me but I did have a pile of swatches in my room for a about 2 weeks before I made up my mind." Tartan is special to Dan and while he swam for University of Florida he often wore his kilt out to football games with friends and teammates and in his words they thought it was the greatest thing ever. As soon as people see tartan they make the connection with Scotland.
When I lived in Florida they loved my tartan kilt. Everyone came up to me and spoke to me and they always knew I’m from Scotland, wearing the traditional kilt and I just think it’s something really cool to have in your wardrobe. To add a suit to my collection is even better.
Dan explained that swimming in America then coming home to represent Scotland at the summer meets made him really appreciate where he came from and how much he loves Scotland and Edinburgh. When he left Edinburgh the Royal Commonwealth Pool was just about to be re-furbished and now he trains there 8 out of 9 sessions a week so it really feels like home to him. At 24 Dan has surpassed his goals and dreams of becoming a world class swimmer. We asked him how he feels when he goes out to swim: "I have confidence in myself, I have put in the hard work, trained to get to this point. It's like wearing your tartan suit - you want to be confident and look good, have that confidence to be a bit different when you walk into the room. I replicate that feeling when I go out to swim."Dan_Wallace_Commonwealth_Games This fits with the very William Wallace'esque value of the Team Scotland Aquatics squad "We are proud, humble, ambitious, fierce and quietly arrogant". When you describe a proud Scotsman this is very much what you think of and we can't wait to see the team in action. Dan is very excited to represent Scotland and race against some of the best swimmers in world and Commonwealth.
"The Australians are a great swimming nation and it will be good to challenge them on home turf. We are lucky that swimming is in the first week so we get to race and battle it out, then relax and enjoy watching the other athletes and get behind Team Scotland. The swim team want to go out there and set the pace for medals from the start." Go on Dan and the squad we know you can do it!