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From Inverurie to the Olympics: Hannah Miley looks back on her career after retiring from competitive swimming

Hannah Miley standing at the edge of a pool, arms spread wide with her medals across them
Hannah Miley has retired from competitive swimming

Hannah Miley retires from competitive swimming with no regrets after a medal-laden career.

The 32-year-old from Inverurie has called time on competing after 17 years of international racing having won 25 medals at senior World, European and Commonwealth level.

Miley did consider trying to carry on until next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but feels she has nothing more to achieve.

She said: “I’m 32 and I’ve achieved everything I could possibly have achieved in swimming.

“The Olympic medal eluded me, but fourth place was the best I could do at a Games, I felt now was the right time.

“There’s no right or wrong time for any athlete to announce their retirement and it’s difficult for me to answer.

“But for me this was the right time to do it, there was nothing more I could have done in my sport.

“There’s not much more I needed to do and I’ve got the Commonwealth Games record for my event.

“I could have stayed in that loop and kept chasing, but the age and stage I’m at I’m ready for swimming to not be a priority any more.

“There are other things in my life that are taking priority.

“Swimming is very unforgiving and you need that full focus and effort and I feel I’ve given that for 17 years of international racing.

“Swimming is still up there but it’s not the number one spot in my life, I hope to go to Birmingham and support the team from poolside.”

Miley’s medal haul

Miley’s specialist events were the 400m and 200m individual medley, but she also won medals both individually and in relay teams in freestyle.

She won a silver and a bronze medal in the World Championships, a gold, a silver and three bronze medals in the World Short Course Championships.

Miley claimed a gold, a silver and four bronze medals in the European Championships as well as two golds, four silvers and two bronze medals in the European Short Course Championships.

Hannah Miley smiling with her gold medal in hand
Hannah Miley with her gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Representing Scotland across four Commonwealth Games she won two golds, a silver and a bronze medal.

Miley competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the London games four years later and in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

She finished sixth, fifth and fourth in the 400m individual medley at those events.

Hopes of going to a fourth Olympics this year in Tokyo were ended as a result of shoulder surgery.

‘Something I’m really proud of’

Although Miley would have loved to have finished on the podium at an Olympics she is still proud of her achievements.

She added: “I had a major shoulder operation in October 2020 and I was told it would take a year to recover.

“Being told it would be a year to get my shoulder back to where I needed it to be when the Olympic Games were only six-eight months away it was outwith that bracket.

“It gave me an opportunity to try – miracles do happen and I’m an opportunist.

“It gave me a target to work towards during my rehab and that helped me mentally be successful in my rehab.

“I did myself proud and I now have a shoulder which is functioning really well and I can swim without pain for the first time in I don’t know how many years.

Hannah Miley underwater, swimming
Hannah Miley competing at the London 2012 Olympics.

“I can’t ask for more than that. It was hard because it was an Olympic Games and every athlete wants to be part of it.

“But I knew what my expectations were and that it would be a very tough ask to be there so I made peace with that.

“I really enjoyed watching and supporting the team and I think that came about because I knew there was nothing else I could have done, it was out of my control.

“Medals are great, but they’re not the only reason you are successful and that was one of the biggest lessons Rio taught me.

“Yes being on the podium was the ultimate dream and it was hard to just miss it by 15 hundredths of a second.

“It’s taken me a couple of years but I’ve turned what was initially quite a hard moment in my life into something I’m really proud of.

“If you said to any person ‘you’re going to be fourth in the world at something’ you’d think that was pretty cool.”

Helping others going forward

Looking to the future Miley is hoping she can help more girls and women in sport.

She explained: “I want to be able to give back and encapsulate and share the many years I’ve had in swimming, whether that’s through mentoring or masterclass clinics.

“I’ve got a huge passion and drive for working with girls and women in sport and helping them and allowing them to train smarter with their menstrual cycle.

“Opening up the conversation for them to be empowered, be successful in their sport and be the best version of themselves and not feel cheated or put out because of their menstrual cycle.

“There’s lots of opportunities out there and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes.”

Debt to family

Miley has been coached by her father Patrick during her career and said: “I’m always going be indebted to my family and my dad especially.

“He was the one that got me involved in swimming in the first place.

“He wasn’t a full-time coach for the majority of my career – he was a full-time helicopter pilot and he coached me on the side.

Hannah Miley with her father and coach Patrick
Hannah Miley with her father and coach Patrick.

“Our relationship has developed and grown, I’m very proud to be his daughter and be the person I am because of him.

“The sacrifices my family have had to make meant it really wasn’t easy for my brothers Alastair and Joseph.

“They had to give up an awful lot too, they were the best training partners I could have asked for and were always very supportive.”

Going full circle

Miley brought down the curtain on her racing career with a final swim in a 400m medley in her home pool of Inverurie.

Her career started as a member of Garioch Amateur Swimming Club at the Aberdeenshire town’s old pool before it was replaced with a new pool last year.

She said: “One of the reasons I wanted that swim to be the last one was because the impact of that pool on my life has been huge.

“The old pool is no longer there, the new pool overlooks the site of the old pool.

Hannah Miley in front of Inverurie swimming pool
Hannah Miley started her career at Inverurie swimming pool.

“It started in Inverurie and for me to finish in Inverurie made it feel like I’ve come full circle.

“I’ve been part of the Garioch club for 20 plus years and I still hold dear their values to this day.

“I love being different, I love that Garioch was that obscure pool, four lanes, 25 metres.

“Who knew that pool would take someone to three Olympic Games, four Commonwealth Games, multiple World and European Championships.”