Scotland has an Olympic medallist and a bunch of enthusiastic youngsters heading for the world championships in Barcelona starting this weekend. There is also the evergreen and still improving Hannah Miley.
The sole Scottish female in a 27-strong Team GB, the 23-year-old will be aiming to repeat her medal success of Shanghai two years ago whena silver in the 400m individual medley was the perfect pre-Olympic boost.
As it turned out, London 2012 didn’t bring the dream reward of a podium appearance. Miley finished fifth in a race that was won by Shiwen Ye and overshadowed by question marks over the Chinese 16-year-old’s sudden rise to prominence.
A year on, Miley is older, wiser and still bubbling with enthusiasm for a sport that has been a lifelong passion and a huge family commitment.
Just days short of her 24th birthday, she has no thoughts of retreating from the gruelling grind of elite swimming. When she returns from Barcelona her mind set will switch towards the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – her defence of the 400m medley is now exactly 12 months away – and then on to the next Olympic Games.
“At the moment, I’ve not started to think about Glasgow,” said Miley. “But I definitely want to be there and then go on to try to make it to a third Olympics in Rio in 2016.”
She is coached by her father, Patrick, at the Garioch Club in Inverurie and has made a few tweaks to her training routine. There is more out of pool work and a change in bedtime.
“Before, I used to sleep for two or three hours in between the training stints,” she explained. “But now I’m restricting myself to a quick 40-minute nap during the day and then going to bed by 8.30pm. By that time, laptops and phones are banned.
“I’m up at 4.35 in the morning. That gives me time to digest breakfast and then either run or cycle to the pool for the 6am training session. “I’m also doing a lot more land work and the changes have certainly benefited me during the short-course season, so we’ll see if it has worked for the world championships.”
Another change since the Olympics is that Miley is now a graduate of Robert Gordon’s University. She was awarded her BSc in applied sports and exercise science at a ceremony in Aberdeen earlier this month.
“I’m very proud that I managed to do the degree alongside my swimming and it is a great safety net for when I do eventually hang up my cap and goggles,” she continued.
Miley was first up for GB at the Olympics but, in Barcelona, will have to wait until the final day next weekend before her chance.
“Funnily enough, the dates are exactly the same so it is bringing back a lot of memories of London but the programme is different,” she added. Reflecting on the 2012 Olympics experience, Miley added: “Nothing can ever be as big again. When we got to London just before the Games, it really hit me.
“There were posters everywhere and everything was so in your face the whole time. But I think it benefited both dad and me. When it comes to Glasgow next year, we should be better able to manage home expectations. I’ve also been round the block a few times so coping with the pressure should be easier.”
Giving something back to the sport of swimming – and trying to encourage greater participation – are matters dear to Miley’s heart. And she will get a chance to inspire the masses when she takes part in the Scottish Gas SwimBritain event at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh on 29 September.
“I want to get lots of people involved” she said. “There is a relay swim challenge and it will be zig zag laps of the pool instead of the usual up and down in lanes.
“I’ll also be on hand to offer advice on skills and training. It promises to be a great day and I am really looking forward to taking part. There are going to be similar days all around Britain.”
It would, of course, be perfect if Miley could turn up at the Commonwealth Pool in September with another world championship medal to show off to the next generation. So what are her prospects for Barcelona?
“I never give away my goals, but Ye will be there along with a couple of very good Hungarian girls. There is also Spain’s Mireia Belmonte, so she will have the backing of the home crowd.
“There are a lot of very good names so it is going to be tough just to make the final. But the opportunity is there and I’ll try to take it.”
Michael Jamieson, the Olympic silver medallist in the 200m breaststroke, will be heading the Scottish assault in Barcelona and freestyler Robbie Renwick is another hugely experienced campaigner.
For Ross Murdoch, Dan Wallace and Craig McNally it is a breakthrough into Team GB and Jak Scott is a valued member of the relay squad. Hannah is flying the flag for Scotland’s women.
• Hannah Miley is taking part in Scottish Gas SwimBritain, a programme aiming to get 500,000 people swimming more regularly. Hannah will be at Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool on Sunday 29th September - team up and take on SwimBritain with her at www.swimbritain.co.uk/signup.