Hannah’s off to Rio, but there’s more swimming success to be found at home

I was over the moon to read that Hannah Miley has successfully booked her place at the Olympic Games in Rio.

Hannah, whose performances have ensured that Scotland has become known as a home of sensational swimming talent, bagged her first gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Dehli.

She went on to enjoy many successes, but perhaps none so emphatic as the 400m individual medley gold she won in front of the Glasgow 2014 home crowd, followed by a bronze in the 200m individual medley.

Seeing Hannah’s name in the papers is a regular occurrence, and her beaming face which often features in the accompanying picture brings the memories of our wonderful Commonwealth Games flooding back.

But what is it that makes Hannah such a fantastic athlete and ambassador for her home town, Aberdeenshire and Scotland?

Obviously, her dedication in training and preparation is unarguably a major contributing factor, along with the skill and technique she has developed over many years in the water. I recall bumping into Hannah at Aberdeen Airport as she was returning from altitude training in Andorra - Heaven knows what rigours that entailed.

I am certain that Hannah will go on to Rio, which is set to be a show-stopping games, and continue to make us all proud. Here’s hoping it will be third time lucky for her and she’ll return home with a medal.

However, I'm sure that I would be correct in saying much of her success is based on her attitude and personality.

This would have been nurtured and allowed to grow at her local club. Garioch Amateur Swimming Club proudly display the words of Mark Twain as their motto: “Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great”.

And Hannah’s father, GASC Head Coach Patrick Miley, will undoubtedly ensure that his daughter’s successes are repeated by more Aberdeenshire youngsters under his coaching regime. I read that ex-serviceman and triathlete Pat juggled Hannah’s London Olympics preparation with his job as a North Sea helicopter pilot. Before this, he worked with Ian Thorpe and three-times US Olympic gold medallist Brooke Bennett.

The great work that the club does for young swimmers in Aberdeen is evident by their many achievements. Their website achievement page boasts a sprawling list of medals and cups held by tots to teens and beyond.

The club was founded in 1970, and maintained by the hard work of a committed team of locals. It’s a great reflection of the spirit we share in this part of the country. A togetherness and determination which has been personified by Hannah. A more down to earth and indubitably genuine athlete you will not meet.

They say that you are only one swim away from a good mood, and looking ahead to more successes from our local hero Hannah - as well as the future of Scottish swimming being nurtured here in Aberdeenshire - certainly ensures a smile on my face.


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