HANNAH Miley turns 24 in the next few weeks but listen to her speak and you would think she’ll soon be queuing for her pension.
Miley is one of British swimming’s most marketable faces – a sponsorship deal has her staring out from the back of your breakfast cereal box and she underlines her Smiley nickname by having a bad word to say about absolutely no-one.
Her training routine remains the stuff of legend and few in the team are more diminutive, more determined or more popular.
But time and more youthful rivals are starting to catch up on her, she claims, after settling for bronze in the 200m medley at the British Gas Swimming Championships in Sheffield yesterday.
Over the longer 400m distance, Commonwealth champion Miley still takes some beating, winning her eighth consecutive national title at Ponds Forge this week to underline her promise for next month’s World Championships in Barcelona.
But over half the distance, she was the oldest swimmer in last night’s final, which was won by 21-year-old Sophie Allen with Siobhan Marie O’Connor, a slip at just 17, fractions behind.
“I fully expected them to win it, it was exactly as I predicted, although I thought that Siobhan-Marie was going to get it,” said Miley. “I’m really happy to get among the medals. I assumed I was going to come fourth or fifth with the way things have been going, I’ve fractured my hand on my knuckle, so it’s not been feeling great in the water.
“I’ve just had to plough through it but, hopefully, once it has recovered and healed, I’ll be able to swim properly with both hands at the World Champs.
“The younger ones are definitely showing that they have the talent and they deserve their spots, that’s why they came in the top two and for them to swim that well is great.
“They are full out sprinters and they deserve to be on the team.”
Fellow Scot Robbie Renwick’s quest for a third national title remains on course after he qualified second quickest for the 100m freestyle final – although in-form sprint specialist Adam Brown looks a red-hot favourite.
But Renwick insists he is happy with his week, after winning his principle targets over 200m and 400m and he underlined his form by clocking a 49.49 second Scottish record in qualifying.
“I felt like I was really going for it. Sometimes the 100m is quite delicate for me. If you try too hard sometimes you go a bit slower,” said Renwick.
“I felt really good this morning in the heats. I’ve had a lot of back-to-back races but it’s a challenging racing environment here, there are a lot of factors you need to get right. “I’m such a competitive person I just want to get the best out of myself in all races and I really want to get the qualifying time for the 100m as well.
“The pressure is off, but I don’t feel like my work is done for this week, the final will be a good one.
“Who knows what I can do in Barcelona? I’ll just be doing the best I can, I can’t be upset if I don’t get a medal.”
Elsewhere, Glasgow’s Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson qualified for the 100m breaststroke final in a confident 1:00.79, while Roberto Pavoni won the 200m medley and promising teenager Lauren Quigley took the women’s 100m backstroke.
n Hannah Miley is taking part in British Gas SwimBritain, a programme aiming to encourage half a million people to improve their fitness by swimming more regularly by 2015. Team up and take part! Find out more at www.swimbritain.co.uk/challenge