Daniel Wallace can consider himself a national hero, and not just because of his nickname, Braveheart (very deserved, by the way). “I’m from bonny Scotland, with ginger hair, a large personality and the second name Wallace. So the nicknames ‘Braveheart’ seemed pretty fitting”, he explains.
Wallace is one of the team members who represented Great Britain at the Rio Olympics, including Duncan Scott, Stephen Milne, James Guy and Robbie Renwick, four of them swimmers from the University of Stirling. The squad made a new British record with a time of 7:03.13, winning the silver medal for the 4x200m Freestyle Relay.
The 23 years old swimmer from Edinburgh confesses that they key was “Trust. We had fought for our spot on that relay and we knew that each of us wanted to succeed as a team more than anything. We trusted in each other and everything fell perfectly into place”.
In fact, this is one of the things that he appreciated the most of the whole competition: “The relationships between all the swimmers on the Olympic team was great. We all know each other very well now and I can happily say they are my friends for life”.
Dan, how he uses to be called, remembers the experience as “a dream that seemed a million miles away. In the end it suddenly creeped up on me. Only now looking back I can see how special it was and what it means to me to say I have done it”.
One of the things that he points as one of his strongest points is the mental ability: “I’m able to stay very relaxed during high pressure situations in swimming and this allows me to always have fun during my races and competitions”. This is why he didn’t find any pressure in representing the whole country: “I loved having the responsibility to represent my country and I felt a huge sense of pride in doing so”.
The competitive ambience that we all think that the Olympics implicates seems far from reality in Dan’s words: “I loved meeting and speaking with other athletes from all around the world, knowing that we are all here doing the same thing. Representing our countries at the highest sporting level”.
Wallace has been swimming for more than 10 years now and he still remembers that at the age of 15 he discovered that this was something he wanted to dedicate his life to. His first competition was the Scottish Schools Championship. “Since then I have gone on to win medals at The Commonwealth Games, World Championships and The Olympic Games. As well as holding several Scottish and British records”, he remembers.
He started his career in Scotland, but his passion moved him to the other side of the ocean: Florida. Actually, his club is the University of Stirling and his college team is the University of Florida. But there’s any problem on that, for him is like “having two big families”.
Talking about how easy is to combine studies and a professional swimmer life he considers that the University of Stirling is one the “places around the world that allow you to pursue an athletic career and also to earn an academic qualification”.
But there’s more in life then study and workout: family and friends. The swimmer says that it has been easy for him to deal with that. “My family and friends have been there since day one. They have sacrificed just as much as I have on my journey and my success in swimming wouldn’t have been possible without them. I do enjoy getting away from the pool and my swimming life and just being normal from time to time with my friends and with my family who I am very close with”, he explains.
Especially his mum is an essential part in his life. If there’s someone who could replace Michael Phelps as a role model that’s his mum: “my mum Tanya is the most loving and hard working person I know and she has so many great qualities”.
But there’s no doubt that Phelps was an inspiration for him, as he affirms that “he was definitely someone who I looked up to when I started swimming. To now have raced him and to call him a friend of mine is crazy”.