IT must have been Hannah Miley’s worst nightmare: being confined to dry land. No sooner had this redoubtable 29-year-old from Inverurie secured a fine bronze medal in the European Long Course swimming championships at Tollcross than she was suffering a double blow. Dropped from lottery funding, she soon found herself on the operating table, getting a chunk of damaged ligament removed from her left ankle, a procedure which saw her walking around in a moon boot for a month.

Mind you, it is 500 days and counting now until the Tokyo Olympics get underway and if Miley isn’t on the start line for her fourth Olympics it certainly won’t be through the lack of trying. Speaking as she was announced as an ambassador for the European short course championships at Tollcross this November, Miley was telling of a path to peak fitness being plotted in military fashion under the watchful eye of her coach and dad Patrick, a former helicopter pilot who swam whilst in the army. She turns 30 in August too, an advanced age in a sport where the likes of Rebecca Adlington hang up her swimsuit at the age of just 23. But don’t mention the ‘r’ word

“It has been frustrating hearing people talking about retiring,” said Miley. “I have never mentioned the ‘r’ word. People make assumptions, but it is my sport, my career. I am the one who is in control of when I finish. Four Olympics would be pretty cool, although three is pretty decent too! But I would like to give my body the opportunity to try to race at the Olympics. If I didn’t do that, I think I would be sitting kicking myself. But I need to make sure I am physically ready for it.

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: In at the deep end again as Hannah Miley opens the show at the European Championships

“I need to get my body to where I need it to be by the end of the year, then I would like to try to target the Olympic trials in April next year,” she added. “In order to be able to do that, I can’t just suddenly throw myself in the pool, still be in pain and get the recovery wrong.”

Miley is back in action at this weekend’s Edinburgh International Swim Meet, just operating on a reduced schedule as she strengthens the joint and with very different goals from usual. She is non-committal when it comes to competing in the British trials back at Tollcross in April, and the World Championnships in Gwanju, South Korea, which follow. “I was never naturally talented at swimming – I just had to work really, really hard at it.” She says. “There wasn’t a fancy facility to train in but I just made it work. The determination and being slightly ‘mental’ are both still inside me - you have to be slightly crazy to enjoy getting up at 4:30 in the morning! I always thought I swam and the competitiveness came with it. Now I realise I’m competitive whether I’m swimming or not.”