Hannah Miley: Two weeks of hard work in the sun to kick off my Olympic year

I HAD a great family Christmas but New Year came and went with no real chance for celebration and yesterday I flew to Tenerife. It’s fantastic to escape the terrible weather we’ve had at home, but don’t be under any illusion that it is a lovely winter holiday.

It’s just my Dad (my coach) and me and it’s going to be two weeks of really hard work. I’m really looking forward to an intense time of training. My Dad has been on a number of courses recently associated with his job as a helicopter pilot so I’ve not seen him very much. In fact, he’s really been an e-coach – everything has been done via the internet.

In Tenerife, it will be an outdoor 50m pool and it will be an intense fortnight and a chance to work on a few of the things that will hopefully shave off the fractions of seconds that can make the difference between a medallist and an also-ran.

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Christmas was a time to spend with my parents and brothers and grandma and granddad. But it already seems a long time ago. I was back into my daily routine at the Garioch Pool in Inverurie on December 27 and then I went to Stirling for some long-course training before flying out to Tenerife.

Of course, 2012 has huge significance. The London Olympics are now just over six months away but I tried to treat the arrival of a New Year as normally as possible and there were certainly no wild celebrations.

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The aim is to try and enjoy every moment of this year – I know it is a once in a lifetime experience. But I have to try and stay relaxed and not become too anxious.

On thing that is so cool at the start of 2012 is that my picture is now on Kellogg’s cereal boxes. Apparently, there are about 50 million of them. But I’ve got dry hair in the photos so you might have to look twice to recognise me.

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It’s all part of Kellogg’s Free Kids Swim Offer – a great way to get more youngsters into pools and enjoy swimming. I am so pleased to be supporting the campaign.

There is going to be one batch up until the Olympic trials in March and then I think there will then be a change. It will be funny to see the boxes in my local supermarket.

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Talking of the trials, they will be here in a flash. There are now just 56 days to go and so three is definitely no chance of even one day off before then. My younger brother, Alastair, is also hoping to make the trials, which will be the first event at the Olympic Pool.

He has just turned 17 and is very close to making the qualifying times in the 200m backstroke and 400m medley. He has been troubled by an ankle injury but hopes to make the times at a competitions this month.

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For myself, the only event that I might enter before the trials is the British University Championships. Robert Gordon’s University in Aberdeen has been very supportive so I like to support the meet.

I had a great end to 2011. I took a silver (400m individual medley) and a bronze medal (200m individual medley) at the European Short-course Championships in Poland in December and I also swam well at the Dutch Open Championships in Eindhoven. My times were faster than a year ago – and so I couldn’t really ask for any more.

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The undoubted highlight of 2011 was my silver medal at the World Championships in Shanghai in July. I felt it was a huge stepping-stone. It was a really good year all round. I had a lot of fast swims and some good training camps.

But this year is going to be an even bigger test. In some ways, it is a relief to know we have reached 2012. But, as I say, I’m trying not to worry about too much and enjoy everything that comes my way.

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And it’s not been all swimming over the last few weeks. I’ve had two exams for my sports and exercise degree at Robert Gordon’s. But that’s my studying over until September – nothing until the Olympics are over.

• Hannah Miley is the European and Commonwealth Games 400m individual medley Champion and she won the silver medal at the World Championships in Shanghai last month. She is one of Scotland’s leading prospects for the 2012 Olympic Games and is a member of Team Kellogg’s.