Three-time Olympian Hannah Miley has opened up on the mental challenges of the coronavirus lockdown
Miley, 30, is back in the pool at Aberdeen Sports Village Aquatics Centre, which has reopened to performance swimmers and divers this week as they look ahead to next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics and other performance competitions.
A two-time Commonwealth champion in the 400 metre individual medley, Miley has returned to training with the likes of para-swimming sensation Toni Shaw.
In the diving pool – the only pool of its kind in UK which has reopened so far – local divers have been joined by some of the country’s best and brightest, including European bronze medallist and Tokyo hopeful James Heatly.
Inverurie’s Miley says she’s “very grateful” to be back to work.
She said: “This is the longest anybody has had out of the water.
“While it’s been frustrating in one sense, because you want to keep the feel of the water, at the same time there was a reason we couldn’t be in the pool.
“I’m happy ASV is opening up, but it’s only opening as long as we follow the guidelines.
“Hopefully it’s a step in the right direction for other leisure centres and facilities to open up.
“We’ve very grateful for what ASV, Scottish Swimming and the Scottish Government.”
Miley says the hardest part of the Covid-19 crisis for her was the initial cancellation of all the competitions she’d been training towards and, after a tough period, she is now back in a positive frame of mind and pleased with how she’s maintained a baseline of fitness, given the circumstances.
She explained: “You get that first initial ‘this is great, I get a couple of days’, but when you realise it’s not a couple of days and you don’t know where the end is, it’s really difficult to stay motivated.
“The first two weeks I had all these plans, but as soon as the second week finished I hit a massive dip and thought: ‘What am I training for? What am I working towards?’
“When you look at some of the other countries that didn’t even stop because of Covid, I’m thinking: ‘I’m going to be up against these guys, how am I going to manage my training?’
“You can spiral into this dark place, which is not good, but I’ve tried to find ways to keep myself out of it.”
Miley has praised the support offered by her partner, as well as Zoom calls with her mum and dad, while also describing cocker spaniel puppy Poppy as the “light of her life”.
Aside from land work, and trying to help local swimming clubs by putting on virtual mobility and coaching sessions, Miley revealed – since Scotland entered phase two of lockdown easing – she has turned to the open water in order to “keep the feel” of the water.
She said: “I’ve been doing little bits of open water and trying to be inventive with my training.
“I’ve been at Knockburn Loch as often as I can.
“It’s not ideal conditions being in a wetsuit and being in a lake, but water’s all you need to keep the feel.”
As for when competitive swimming will return and what form it will take, Miley expects more outside-of-the-box thinking to be required before true normality returns.
She said: “Competitions-wise, we don’t really know what it’s going to look like.
“It’s going to be different to start with.
“We might have to do stand-up swims or virtual competitions. With technology we’ve opened a lot more doors for being creative and inventive with things.
“There might be a lot of domestic in-house racing.”