Hannah Miley admits she’s still battling through the pain as her comeback from ankle surgery continues.
Triple Olympian Miley, 29, has been in action at the Scottish Open Championships in Aberdeen this weekend, with victory in her favoured 400m individual medley among her results.
A medal winner at world, Commonwealth and European level, the Inverurie athlete has had a testing few months.
After 400m IM silver at Gold Coast 2018, she went under the knife in December to end two years of ankle pain, caused by an extra – and damaged – ligament.
Rehabilitation followed, before she bagged bronze at the British Championships to narrowly miss out on qualification for next month’s World Championships.
After taking victory at Aberdeen Aquatics Centre in a time which was more than 15 seconds off her 400m IM British record, Miley admits her recovery is ongoing.
She said: “There’s a little bit of discomfort there still and I’m still working on that to get rid of it.
“My body can heal as quickly as it can heal. If I could turn it off and go ‘right that’s it back to normal’ that would be great.
“But I just have to keep working towards it and keep working on my rehab, doing what my physio says and making it work for me.
“There’s gym stuff and in the water as well, trying to get that range and fluidity back.
“I can get the range, it’s just the natural flow and feel. I used to have very floppy feet, so to have a slight bit of tension or stiffness in it (the ankle) makes a big difference for me.
“It’s all about the marginal gains and subtleties to it.”
Her involvement in the championships which are taking place in the Sports Village Aquatics Centre training base is aimed at keeping her racing skills sharp as her physical capabilities return.
She said: “I know it’s not my max or where I want to be at.
“I definitely will be a lot better than that – but it (racing) helps me focus on my competitive skills when I’m fatigued.
“It’s all for the bigger picture, getting myself back into it, focusing on the processes and just enjoying it.
“I enjoy being part of the team and getting on the block to race.
“Regardless of the mental or physical state I’m in, racing’s the most important thing for me.”
There’s been no taper, but Miley feels she’s in better shape than at the British Championships in Glasgow, when she finished behind Commonwealth champion Aimee Willmott and Abbey Wood.
Miley’s mindset has also changed as she looks forward.
She said: “It’s definitely moving in the right direction, feeling a lot better and feeling a lot more like myself compared to last year.
“I’ve definitely been disrupted since the surgery and it’s been an eye-opening journey for me to this point.
“I’ve no idea if it’s going to work or if it’s not, but I’ve kind of made the decision to see but enjoy it at the same time.
“I’m not putting as much pressure on me as I have in previous years and I’ll just enjoy the ride.
“Swimming’s been everything for me, but I’m allowing myself to enjoy it for what it is.
“Sport’s given me a lot, not just the medals and the podiums, there’s more to it.”
Her stated aim for the rest of the year is to be “happy and healthy and ready to just keep going”, and earlier this week Scottish national coach Alan Lynn hinted to the Evening Express Miley could make a fourth Olympics in Tokyo next year.
Miley is also an ambassador for the European Short Course Championships, at Tollcross in December.
She would love to compete in Glasgow, at an event where she has medalled multiple times and won the 400m IM in 2009 and 2012.
“It would be awesome to be selected. I’m obviously not in control of who gets selected or how the selection policy is,” she said.
“We won’t know until October or November time, so I’ll do what I can in the summer.
“It will probably be based on summer performances.
“At the end of the day it’s out of my hands. If I get selected, added bonus, but it doesn’t change anything for me.
“I’m just trying to promote swimming and getting people to buy tickets.
“We won’t have many opportunities to compete in Scotland and we’re such a good home crowd.”