Hannah Miley (8 August, 1989) is a British individual medley swimmer and ranks among the top echelons of the discipline worldwide.
Hannah’s first experience on the international podium was at the 2005 European Junior Championships in Budapest, where she won a silver medal in the 400m IM. She followed this up later in the year at her first international senior meet with a sixth place finish in the same event at the European Short Course Championships in Trieste. Her encouraging start didn’t immediately materialize into medal placings on the senior competition circuit, as 2006 saw final appearances but no medals at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the European Championships in Budapest.
After a promising start to 2008 at World Short Course Championships in Manchester – where she picked up a silver medal in the 400m IM and a bronze in the 200m IM – Hannah had a disappointing Olympic Games in Beijing, and failed to pick up a medal at the year-end’s European Short Course Championships with two fourth-placed finishes. An agonizing fourth-placed finish at the 2009 World Championships in Rome – where she missed out on the bronze medal by less than half a second and was just 0.6s behind second place – was followed by a gold medal at the European Short Course Championships in Istanbul, where she won the 400m IM and earned a bronze in the 200m IM. A week later at the Duel in the Pool in Manchester, she broke the European Short Course record as she placed third in the 400m IM.
The rewards that Hannah’s hard work deserved finally came to fruition in 2010, when she won her first 400m IM European Championship in Budapest in a championship record time, and also picked up a bronze in the 200m IM. Two months later in New Delhi, she picked up another 400m IM gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Her European Championship efforts produced the fastest 400m IM time of the year.
As 2011 gears up for the World Championships in Shanghai, Miley’s preparation has been promising. As of mid-June she had posted the third best 400m IM time of the year, while at the Mare Nostrum meet in Monte Carlo, she won both the 200m and 400m IM events, twice beating Kirsty Coventry into second place. If her progress over the past year is anything to go by, Miley may well be the IMer to watch this year in Shanghai and next year London.
For Hannah Miley, swimming is a family affair. Not only is father Patrick her coach, her two younger brothers are also swimmers, and mother Carmel provides the backbone, giving support and being so closely tuned in that she can anticipate the health and dietary needs of her aquatic offspring. Having such a tight-knit and supportive family unit is vital for Hannah, since for the most part she trains alone, swimming her grinding lengths at a small 25m pool with just four lanes in Inverurie, the small Scottish town they live in. On days when lively swimmers share the pool with Hannah, the choppy water can seem like the wind-blown North Sea not far away.
It’s the same pool that three-year-old Hannah first showed her affinity for water, and where she started swimming regularly as a six-year-old, already demonstrating at an early age a prodigious work ethic to go with her talent. Father Patrick’s methods are nothing if not unorthodox – she often trains with a belt tied around her waist, dragging sponges behind her. In the mid-1990s he invented the Aquapacer, which transmits a beep to a receiver attached to the swimmer’s goggles in order for them to monitor and regulate their swimming stroke. When he’s not coaching his daughter, the ex-army man flies helicopters between nearby Aberdeen and the offshore oil rigs. In 2010 he was named the British Swimming Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year.
Hannah’s career has had its share of ups and downs, and it’s testament to her dedication that she continues to rebound from misfortune to look for ways to improve. Her belief that everything happens for a reason, and that you can find positives in every experience – even the bad ones – is central to her character. Success in swimming, she believes, is all about application and attitude, something that’s required in large doses when she rises for her three-mile run through the thick coastal Scottish fog to her 6am morning training sessions. Her 2010 European 400m IM title is therefore no less than she deserves, but it’s been coming – in 2008 she swam the 5th fastest 400 IM of the year, in 2009 the fourth, and in 2010, the fastest (her Euro Championship swim).
With the 2012 Olympics scheduled in her home country, there’s much talk about the potential of British athletes winning medals, which naturally creates pressure. But for Hannah, it’s the ultimate dream – winning an Olympic medal in front of her home crowd. And that’s what is likely to drive her. Now that she’s won her first major international LC gold and laid a few demons to rest, who knows what Team Miley and her application and attitude might deliver in the future, not least with London awaiting...
Name/Lastname: Hannah Miley
Country: United Kingdom
Place/date of Birth: August 8 1989, Swindon
Team/Club: Garioch ASC
Discipline: 200m and 400m Individual Medley
Coach: Patrick Miley
Place of training: Aberdeen