IT was the simplest of things that inspired Stephen Milne to strive to reach the upper echelons of the swimming world; someone had the same name as him.

Back in 2004, Milne was a 10 year-old kid and Athens was hosting the Olympic Games. As most kids do, Milne was watching the Olympics on television and took a sudden liking to a particular butterfly swimmer – a Brit called Steve Parry. From there, a seed was planted in Milne’s mind that would drive him to work relentlessly to get to the Olympics himself. “I was very young when it was the 2004 Olympics and I saw on the television a guy called Steve Parry who got bronze in the 200 fly,” he recalls. “I said to my mum ‘it’s really cool, he has the same name as me’ - and I decided what I wanted to do was be in the Olympics.”

At that point, Milne did not even know what the Commonwealth Games was but just two years later, he would find out. In 2006, Milne, who was still a baby in swimming terms, watched the Scottish swimming team take the 2006 Commonwealth Games by storm.

Twelve medals, six of which were gold, saw the Scottish swimmers become the story of the Games and that Scottish success provided further inspiration for a young Milne. “I watched the Commonwealths and saw Scotland put in an amazing performance, their best ever, in the swimming,” the Perth City Swim Club athlete said.

“I remember the first day and especially Caitlin McClatchey and David Carry (who both won gold). I remember the 4 x 200m as well - watching Robbie Renwick. Then a few years later I swam at the Scottish nationals and Robbie shook my hand on the podium as I was junior champion and that was such a big moment. To see someone like that close up was amazing.”

Even in his wildest dreams, Milne could not have imagined quite how successfully he would fulfill his goals. Fourteen years on from watching Athens 2004, 23 year-old Milne has a bucketful of medals from major championships in his trophy cabinet, including a Commonwealth silver, an Olympic silver and a world championship gold, all in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay.

Glasgow 2014 was Milne’s Commonwealth Games debut and picking up some silverware was, of course, hugely celebrated. But four years on, as he prepares to head to Australia’s Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games which kick-off in less than three months, Milne is a much improved swimmer and while he is aware of just how stiff the competition will be, he is confident that the bank of experience he has build up in the intervening four years will stand him in good stead - although he in under no illusions as to quite how tough an ask it will be to grab a spot on the podium..

“It’s one of those rare opportunities you get to represent Scotland,” he said of the Commonwealth Games. “I have fond memories from Glasgow and I am hoping to do the same as I did there - medal in the 4 x 200m, and maybe challenge for a podium in the 400 free and the 200 free. Hopefully I’ll get more medals - that’s the aim. The competition will be tough though - some of the best in the world will be there which is good because that is what it is all about. I do enjoy the big competitions.”

While the experience Milne has accumulated over the past four years will help him cope with the rigours of the Commonwealth Games, his success in recent years means that he heads to Gold Coast with far greater pressure on his shoulders than he did as Glasgow 2014 approached.

The weight of expectation can, for some, be crippling, but Milne takes it in his stride. “I try and begin every competition with the same mindset - that I start with nothing and have to earn everything,” he explains. “So I have to earn a place in the final and a podium finish if I get one.

“Me and my coaches just start with the basic principals and then we put them into the race and get the results that we want. So I am just going to go in with an open mind and hopefully get the results I want.”

Every elite swimmer is all too familiar with early mornings and Milne is no different. The rigours of training to reach the highest level in any sport are demanding, but the crack of dawn starts that swimmers must face from a young age make their sport particularly taxing. However, Milne is quick to point out that while he may have had to give up some aspects of life that someone in their early twenties might normally indulge in, he would not change a thing. “When I was young, I didn’t know all the things I would have to go through on the journey to get to where I am, but I have had tremendous support from my family,” he said.

“My mum would get up at 5am and while she wouldn’t have to drag me out of bed, she got me to all the competitions. I don’t really look at it that I’ve made sacrifices - we all have to step back to take a look at what we have been through and decide if it is worth it. This is always what I have wanted to do and I regret nothing. I have had amazing opportunities - Glasgow four years ago was amazing and nothing will ever compare, it was a tremendous feeling. So I would not trade anything - the experiences or the medals.”