Dan Wallace looking to bounce back after drink driving charge

Dan Wallace with his gold medal. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Dan Wallace with his gold medal. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

At one end of the room, there are eruptions of laughter as Team Scotland swimmers entertain themselves by attempting to master the hoola hoop.

Jumping through hoops has become part and parcel of Dan Wallace’s road to redemption after he was caught more than two times over the legal drink drive limit earlier this year, and, as he faces the media, he concedes that the lapse in judgment has often left him with little to smile about.

But it is in this environment, among the men and women who will join him on the plane to Gold Coast in March, that he sees salvation.

The 24-year-old was shamed when news broke that he had been charged with drink driving in June this year. Pleading guilty, he was banned from driving for a year and fined £600. There was also significant damage to his reputation and his career.

Both British and Scottish Swimming ruled that the offence violated the strict athletes’ code of conduct and suspended him from the sport for three months, while he was also instructed to undergo a programme of support designed by a psychologist at the Scottish Institute of Sport and undertake weekly medical checks.

“There were definitely times when I could have just hung up the goggles and that would have made things a lot easier for me.

“I did think about it. I thought, ‘OK, I’ve had a great career, just move on’ but I wanted to prove that I could come back from this. It is easy to do well when things are going well but it is really hard to do well after you’ve had a real 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.”

The Edinburgh swimmer admits he has often struggled to accept the realities of life as a “boring athlete” and has always tried to find a balance that allows him to succeed in the pool while not feeling he has sacrificed everything else.

“There is definitely a lot of fun to be had within the sport and I try to make the most of that. But it is a gruelling process and there is a lot of pressure so it is important to be relaxed and have a bit of fun with it and make sure everyone is having fun and you are bringing the best out in them and do that with a smile on your face.

“Swimmers are boring, athletes are quite boring, and I don’t want to be a boring athlete,” he added in a recent interview with the BBC. “I want to be myself. It’s why I have been so successful but also why I have had my downfalls. It’s about getting balance now, having fun without hurting yourself or anybody else around you.”

“I have a lot to prove to myself,” he added. “I’m coming off a really poor season and it is more difficult for me to do well but I want to prove that I can bounce back. That is my incentive and it is quite exciting.”