THERE’S always something particularly nerve-wracking about the final competitive appearance before a major championship. 

For the majority of Scotland’s swimming squad, this weekend’s Scottish Open, which begins today in Aberdeen, is the last chance to sharpen up before they enter the cauldron that is the Commonwealth Games later this month. 

By now, all the hard work is done; only the final tweaks are left to be made. 

And there are mere weeks to make them. 

For some, the past four years has flown in but for others, these Commonwealth Games have been a long time coming. 

Tain Bruce is one of those in Team Scotland’s squad for Birmingham 2022 who feels the arrival of these Games is long overdue. 

Having missed out on selection for Gold Coast in 2018 by the narrowest of margins, the 24-year-old University of Edinburgh swimmer was counting the days until the 2022 Games, and with her selection to Team Scotland confirmed last month, she admits she was then able to breathe a sigh of relief. 

“I’m really excited to be in Team Scotland, it feels like it’s been a long time coming so it was great to finally be selected,” the 24-year-old says. 

“It feels like it's been a long few years because of everything going really slowly with the pandemic but also because with me missing out on Gold Coast, it made me even more determined to make it this time around. 

“So the Scottish Open will be a good opportunity for some fine tuning and get ready to head down to Birmingham.”  

Having so narrowly missed out on Gold Coast four years ago, Bruce could have been forgiven for wallowing in self-pity for a period of time following the team selection. 

Instead, though, the 100m butterfly specialist bounced back immediately which, at least in part, gave her the confidence that she had what it takes to make it to Birmingham this summer. 

“It was a bit unfortunate in 2018 because during the qualification period, I swam 59.5 seconds then after the selection period closed, I dropped to 58.9 seconds so it was quite a drop. 

“I was too late though.  

“That was challenging but it did show me that I’m resilient and I’m able to bounce back from disappointment and I feel like that went a long way to making me the athlete I am today. 

“It was hard because a lot of the others on my squad had made the team and of course I was happy for them but it was tough knowing I hadn’t made it. But in terms of performance, bouncing back so quickly and swimming fast almost straight away helped a lot because it meant I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself, it was really just onto the next one.  

“It also made me feel like I could do it, it didn’t knock my confidence. I was young enough too that I knew I had another four years in me so I knew Birmingham was within my reach.” 

Having completed her degree in accounting and business at Edinburgh University last summer, Bruce deferred a job offer from Deloitte in order to concentrate fully on her preparations for Birmingham 2022. 

The focus on her swimming has paid off, with Bruce having been in some of the best form of her life in recent months. 

In Birmingham, she will have a dual focus of both the 100m butterfly, in which she is Scottish record holder, and on her part in the 4x100m freestyle relay team and while she is reluctant to set any specific targets in terms of placings in Birmingham, she is in no doubt that she wants to swim faster than she ever has before. 

“Ultimately, I want to come away with a PB,” she says.  

“At senior level, PBs are less and less common so if I can do that on the big stage, I’d be happy. 

“In the relay, I feel like we’ve got a really strong team. 

“And there’s something really nice about the Games being in the UK – we’ll have so much support so it’s going to be really exciting to be a part of it.”