Rio swimmer Stephen outdoes his Lanark great-granny!

Stephen Milne at Carluke High with his Olympic silver medal (Pic by Sarah Peters)
Stephen Milne at Carluke High with his Olympic silver medal (Pic by Sarah Peters)

Margaret Graham was well known in Lanark for her swimming abilities - even at the age of 90, she could dive in and pick up a coin from the floor of the pool.

But her great-grandson Stephen Milne has gone one better: his swimming skills won him a silver medal in the Olympics at Rio in the summer.

Stephen at Wallace Court in Lanark, with his great-uncle Stewart Graham seated to the left of him.

Stephen at Wallace Court in Lanark, with his great-uncle Stewart Graham seated to the left of him.

And on Monday, he visited Clydesdale schools, talking about his life and sporting success, and then dropped in to visit his great-uncle, retired Lanark butcher Stewart Graham and fellow residents of Wallace Court.

Stewart and his wife Anne set the scene, showing a slideshow of 22-year-old Stephen winning his heat, then finishing in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay, and the silver medals being presented to the British team after they were beaten narrowly by the US.

“Stephen is such a happy boy,” Anne told the residents.

“This has been a dream of his since he started swimming, to get to the Olympics, and he has achieved it.”

His grandmother Leana Cleland, spoke of his dedication and his training schedule, in the pool every morning from 6am and again in the evening, and work in the gym on top of his studies.

A sister of Leana and Stewart was Lanimer Queen Netta in 1935, but it was the link with Margaret Graham that caught the eye beforehand.

Stephen’s great-great-grandfather James Graham was a provost of Lanark, and his son, also James, married Margaret Stewart, of New Lanark.

A keen swimmer, she was made a burgess of Lanark, mainly for her work in the pool with disabled youngsters.

Another of the residents remembered her doing handstands in the pool in her later years.

Her swimming even featured in a BBC documentary,

After the family build-up, there was a warm welcome for the Olympic swimmer, who took time to chat to all the residents, and let them feel how heavy the silver medal was.

His reception at Wallace Court came after he spoke to pupils at Carluke High School and Robert Owen Primary in Lanark, the latest in a round of talks.

“I just go to tell them a wee bit about my story and let them know about my journey and my experiences, and I try to inspire them, to encourage them if they want to do something, to persevere with it and to stick with it,” said Stephen.

“I joined the swimming club when I was nine and took it more seriously when I was about 11, when I decided I wanted to one day make it to the Olympics. That was my dream.

“It was the best thing ever. I enjoyed every minute of it, and to come away with a medal from my first one was an amazing feeling.”

Stephen was born in Inverness and brought up in Perth, and he is studying for a degree in environmental science at Perth College, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, but his academic work is on hold just now.

He won a gold medal in the Scottish open championships this year and three silvers in the British championships, and he is now looking forward to the world championships in Hungary next summer, followed by the next Commonwealth Games, then the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

And there was praise on Monday for Andy Smith, headteacher at Carluke High.

He was head at Perth Academy when Stephen was a pupil there and had been very supportive of him always, said the Olympian’s mum Moraig.