2010 was quite a year for Britain’s swimmers, with strong performances throughout the year from trials to Budapest to Delhi and, finally, to Dubai. Those strong results made singling out one swimmer far from easy; particularly catching the eye were Liam Tancock, who was consistently good all year, even when not fully rested, and Fran Halsall who was the most successful British swimmer ever at the European Championships and overcame significant adversity in Delhi to return home with yet more medals. However, one swimmer was able to make a splash every time she got in the pool and hence Hannah Miley is the Pullbuoy swimmer of the year for 2010.
Hannah’s results speak to a great extent for themselves; 400IM gold in Budapest and Delhi, 200IM European silver and establishing herself as a key part of the medal winning 4x200m relay quartet. In addition she managed what many couldn’t and retained her world number one ranking in the face of an Asian onslaught at the tail end of the long course season, finishing top of the 400IM pile with her European winning time of 4:33.09.
Watchers were given a preview of what might be on offer during 2010 at the tail end of 2009 when Hannah took a European Short course gold over 400IM, but there was always the question mark of how she could adapt to the new suit rules, particularly given her relatively diminutive stature.
We needn’t have worried, as Hannah reeled off a dominant victory in Budapest, smashing the best of Europe by over three seconds. She then hung tough in Delhi to take second championship win of the season, demonstrating an admirable mental resilience given the outside distractions that faced her. Finally the 21 year old Scot finished the year with a creditable fourth place finish over 400IM at the world short course championships, despite a short training cycle post Delhi and no meaningful taper.
2010 was the year when Hannah delivered on the undoubted promise she had shown in the long course pool in 2008 and 2009, but having done so she will now find herself a marked woman, with all the pressure in the 400IM now focussed on her for the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, a vital stepping stone to London a year later. In home waters, the Chinese team are certain to be strong, and Hannah will have gotten a close look at her likely rivals in Dubai where the two finishers directly ahead of her were Chinese. Of the two, Ye Shiwen looks like the one to watch, having also finished second in the year’s long course rankings, but undoubtedly the return of Stephanie Rice will also add a further challenge to proceedings. However, Hannah and her coach, her father Patrick, have shown that they know not only how to handle a challenge, but also how to rise to it which hopefully will mean more metalwork in the Miley trophy cabinet as we head into Olympic year.