Rachel sets her sights on 2018 Commonwealth Games

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Despite having been a member of the Scottish team at a home Commonwealth Games in 2014, Aboyne swimmer Rachel Masson claims making the 2018 squad would mean even more to her.

The Robert Gordon University student begins the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games qualification period next spring, and is in confident mood.

Having travelled to Norway earlier this month for the North Sea Swim Meet, she returned to domestic competition last weekend for the BUCS Short Course Championships.

Racing in the 100m and 50m freestyle events she made finals in both, finishing fifth and seventh, respectively, and improving on her times from the previous weekend.

“Overall at BUCS I’d say I was pretty pleased with my performances, making finals in both swims, I was more than happy with that,” said the 21-year-old, who benefits from being part of the SSE Next Generation programme.

“Norway was a good start, and I improved on my performance at BUCS, so I was really pleased.

“At this point in the season it’s just important to work the skills, because it’s short course, then I can bring that into the long-course season.

“Once I get to the long course season, that’s kind of when it gets serious as it will be our qualifying window for the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s a pretty big window, too. It’s not like last time when there was one competition, it’s over a few competitions that you have the opportunity to qualify. So it means you have to be on your game for a big period of time.”

Masson qualified directly for the 2014 Games by being successful at the one-off trials event, but the system has changed this time round, with swimmers given a series of competitions to prove their worth to the Scottish selectors.

The qualification period kicks off in April, but with Masson having to balance training for what she feels would be the biggest achievement of her swimming career, with studying for the final year of her Applied Sport and Exercise Science and she knows it will be a challenge.

“I actually think I prefer the way it is this time round. If you don’t do as well as you’d hoped first time out, then you’ve got an opportunity to fix that,” she added.

“But my goal is to get it right the first time, of course. I’m looking forward to it, though, as long-course works in my favour, so I’m excited for that.

“It is a very long period, because I’ve got to balance it with my final year of university.

“This time round I’m more focussed and way more prepared, and such a bigger drive. I know what I need to do, this time round.”

SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future.