It is entirely contrary to what you would expect from one of Scotland and GB’s most decorated athletes of all time for them to admit they are ever lacking in confidence. But that is how Duncan Scott felt just a few months ago.

A change in training methods in the first few months of this year left him far from his best going into the British Championships in April and as a result, his confidence, despite the raft of major championship medals he had won, was severely depleted.

As it turned out, whether as a result of his physical or mental frailty, Scott performed well below par, and as a result, his timetable at the World Championships, which begin next Sunday in the Japanese city of Fukuoka, is severely reduced compared with his typical jam-packed schedule.

He will swim only the 200m individual medley, as well as three relay events for GB, but it could be just as significant a meet as his previous World Championship appearances.

Scott was only 18 when he made his World debut in 2015 and got his first taste of gold on the global stage. He was part of the 4x200m freestyle relay team which won gold in Kazan but missed out on a place in the quartet that swam in the final.

The experience left him mixed feelings but he is in no doubt it was a major moment in his career and paved the way for what was to come.

“The Worlds in 2015 were really special for me,” he says. “First of all, being at the Champs and then the way the team won gold. 

“I just swam the heat but it was a huge part of my journey because there was disappointment in not being part of the final team but also the realisation of how good this team is and what it could be.”

Scott went from strength to strength and has picked up four more World medals, six Olympic, and 11 European.

It is quite a haul but things have been bumpy, to say the least, this year.

Scott has become well used to being one of the best freestyle swimmers in the world, never mind in Britain, but he has been far from that standard this season.

Trying out a new training regime at his base at Stirling University resulted in a loss of form that led to him finishing only fourth at the British trials in the 200m freestyle, the event in which he won Olympic silver in 2021.

Such a dip in form is not causing Scott a great deal of concern, though, as he believes he, along with his coach Steven Tigg, have identified the root of the issue.

“I was pretty disappointed at trials. I knew I wasn’t in great form and that’s what happens. It’s the same in the US and other places with plenty of depth, if you’re below average, you’re going to pay for it,” he says.

“From January onwards I tried something slightly different with the training load and I just wasn’t able to hit the intensity I’d want to hit. So I’ll hold my hands up and say we maybe got that one wrong but it’s lessons learned.”

Scott travels to Fukuoka as one of the elder statesmen of the GB team and one who many of the more inexperienced swimmers will be looking to for advice, particularly in the absence of double Olympic champion Adam Peaty, who has taken a step
away from competitive swimming this year due to mental health issues.

Scott admits the loss of someone of the stature of Peaty is disappointing but he remains optimistic that the squad can fill the gap left by the Englishman.

“Not having Peaty’s presence is a massive loss to the team,” he says. 

“What he’s achieved is mad so to not have him around is a big blow. I think I speak for everyone when I say I hope it’s not too long till we see him back at his best and back enjoying his sport.

“It means others are going to have to step up and it’s about the team as a whole, one individual doesn’t make the team.”

Scott’s season may not have begun in the manner he would have hoped in terms of form but he is confident that having addressed those issues, he can return to something close to his best in Japan.

“It’s been four years for me since my last Worlds so I’m looking forward to it,” he says. 

“The Olympics in 2021 was the last time I raced a lot of these world class athletes so I’m buzzing to have some head-to-heads.

“But my training is tailored around the Olympics [next summer]. That’s the pinnacle of our sport and so anything I can do this year is a bonus.”