Hannah Miley on life after retiring from professional swimming

Scotland's Hannah Miley
Scotland's Hannah Miley announced her retirement from professional swimming in December

Hannah Miley is throwing herself into a new pet project after her medal-strewn swimming career.

The 32-year-old former Commonwealth, world and European champion retired seven months ago and is enjoying the freedom of not having to get up at "silly o'clock" every morning for punishing training sessions in the pool.

In her post-swimming life, the Scot plays second fiddle to the real star - cocker spaniel Poppy.

Poppy is a therapet, meaning she has been specially trained to provide calm and comfort to the ill, elderly or people who are stressed or anxious.

She also has the distinction of being a national champion, having won Scotland's Best Dog television show in December.

"When I retired from swimming, I wanted to make an impact and help people," Miley tells BBC Scotland's Sporting Life podcast.

"The therapet I thought might be therapeutic for not just myself, getting to meet different people and being able to talk - and Poppy helped bring me out my shell.

"So we go and visit the care home twice a week, we've done a couple of visits to the university, there's a couple of businesses we go and visit.

"I've recently been down to Glasgow to visit a friend in hospital and just use Poppy to brighten her day.

"It's a really nice way to give back because swimming is very self-centred - you do a lot to get yourself in that peak physical and mental condition. I'm very aware of the toll that can take on the people around."

Miley, from Aberdeen, hasn't totally abandoned the sport in which she excelled for almost two decades though.

She enjoys passing on her experience in one-to-one coaching, ranging from absolute beginner to triathlete, and has a business that helps educate female athletes on periods, the menstruation cycle, and their impact on performance.

There's also a twice-weekly swim in the local pool - for a free shower if nothing else.

"It's the first time coming into a summer that I don't have a key meet," Miley adds.

"I felt, 'Oh, this is great', but then now I'm not swimming as much I'm noticing my body shape is changing and trying to get my mentality around that.

"So being able to get up first thing in the morning at least twice a week and doing a form of exercise is really helpful.

"My head space is always so much better when I come out the pool. It just gives me a chance to think if I feel a bit overhwhelmed. And I get to use the pool to shower - it saves me money!"

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