For Ross Murdoch, there's no better place to be than in the trenches.
The Balloch born swimmer retired in December 2021 but struggled to come to terms with life out of the pool and made a last-minute return just six weeks out from the Commonwealth Games trials.
The 28-year-old was toying with retiring during lockdown but carried on for his second Olympic Games and a busy 2021 before quietly calling it quits.
But the 2014 Commonwealth Champion soon found life out of the pool even harder.
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With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Murdoch hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.
Murdoch is one of over than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science, and medical support.
He said: "I was just really bummed out and ready for a break. I just needed to stop without the intention of coming back because I felt like it was my time and I had other priorities that were more important.
"And I got probably four weeks down the line and said to myself, 'I think I kind of miss it' but not that much that I wanted to seriously think about it.
"Then probably a month later I was feeling it and after ten weeks I was like 'oh god I'm in one of the worst spots of my life here'.
"I was really struggling to find structure and balance and I didn't feel like myself and socially isolated. I just didn't feel like I had any purpose.
"It got to week 11 and it was a Tuesday afternoon and I said to myself that I'm going to go up and watch the swimming and speak to my friends and that it's probably just going to settle me.
"And knowing that I'm not a nobody, I'm going to walk away and say I made the right decision."
Murdoch trained at the University of Stirling alongside head coach Steve Tigg and turned up on the Tuesday night to watch his friends go through their paces.
But instead of relief, he was flooded with the urge to return.
He added: "I remember just sitting and watching it and wishing I was in there.
"I wished I was in the trenches - I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
"I asked Steve whether I could come back in the morning, and he said I could come and watch and I said 'no, can I bring my trunks in the morning. I must do this'.
"Swimming that first session on my own, I was swimming a 600m Backstroke with paddles which is notoriously an awful thing to do.
"And there was a solitary tear of happiness in my goggles that it was the best and I knew then I had made the right decision to come back."
This summer, Team Scotland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 250 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Murdoch is looking for medal success.
Birmingham 2022 will be Murdoch's third Commonwealth Games after winning gold in the 200m Breaststroke his first time out in Glasgow and then silver on the Gold Coast.
And with a drive to finish what he started, Murdoch is thrilled to be back representing Team Scotland and enjoying his time in the pool again.
He said: "For me, competing for Scotland was always the goal. I remember being a little guy watching the 2006 Commies and my dad explaining to me that all these people were competing for Scotland.
"And I was like 'You can do that? That's a thing?'
"And I think the year after it was announced that Glasgow was going to be hosting the Commonwealth Games and so that was it for me.
"To now be going to me third one, thinking back to when I was that wee guy it's hard to believe that I would set that goal way back then and now I've done three.
"And if I did get a medal, I'll be on that lane rope going absolutely mental. It would be such a good way to properly finish my Commonwealth Games career."
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