AFTER almost a decade-and-a-half on the international scene, there’s not too many experiences that are new for Hannah Miley anymore. But this weekend, the two-time Commonwealth champion will step into the unknown.

Miley has signed for Rome-based Aqua Centurions, one of eight teams which will compete in the newly-formed International Swimming League (ISL) and today, will take to the blocks for the opening weekend of the event in Indianapolis.

The ISL is a new venture, with swimmers competing against each other in seven locations around the globe including London next month and Las Vegas in December, for $7 million prize-money. Superstars of the sport such as Adam Peaty, Chad Le Clos and Katie Ledecky will be on show, with the goal being to showcase swimming in a new way and Miley admits she is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be part of this new event.

“This is something really fresh and new and I’m so excited to be a part of it,” the 30-year-old said.

“I’m getting the chance to be teammates with swimmers who I’d normally swim head-to-head against and that’s really exciting. It sounds like it’s going to be really fun.

“What’s also different is that it’s not just about times. It’s about getting points on the board for your team and actually the times don’t matter. Having said that though, I think there will be some really fast times and potentially some world records broken.”

Miley hasn’t signed up to the ISL merely for the enjoyment factor though. Having lost her funding last year, the ISL is an excellent way to make some money but more than anything Miley sees the event as an important part of her schedule as she makes a tilt at making the British Olympic team for the Tokyo Games next summer.

As someone who seemed to be perennially injury-free, Miley suffered a major setback at the end of last year when she was forced to undergo ankle surgery which kept her on the sidelines for a number of months. The lay-off meant she missed this summer’s World Championships and with the qualification meet for Tokyo Olympics just six months away, Miley must get back to her best sooner rather than later if she is to make her fourth Olympic appearance.

And so the ISL is, believes Miley, the perfect way to help her get her back to competing with the best in the world.

“This is a great chance to race against world class swimmers during the off season, which is something we rarely get the chance to do,” the Garioch native said.

“We normally race each other only at major meets so to be able to do this and see where I am at this point in the year I think will be really good for me.”

Miley turned 30 in August making her something of a veteran of the sport but one of the things she believes has kept her at the top is her willingness to try new things. And her open-mindedness, coupled with her injury lay-off has ensured that she has something of a different mindset these days.

“The surgery put a real hold on last year but I actually think it was one of the best things for me,” she said.

“It allowed me to take a step back from everything and take a break, both physically and mentally. And it encouraged me to change up my training which was a really good thing. I had got to the point where I was only looking at times but after having the surgery it was more about personal progression. At this year’s British Championships, the priority was concentrating on my process goals and achieving them before I looked at my time so I put a totally different spin on things compared to what I was used to. That was something I’d never had to do before but I think it was something that both my body and my head really needed, especially coming into the Olympic cycle.

“Don’t get me wrong, the injury was definitely challenging at times – it was certainly not all plain sailing and there was a couple of times when I questioned why I was doing this. But actually, I think this has made me a stronger person.”

Were Miley to make it to her fourth Olympic Games, it would be a remarkable achievement but the former European champion is not looking towards Tokyo just yet.

“I don’t really talk about the Olympics even though it’s less than a year away,” she said.

“I’m looking at the next little while in stages and really, I have my eyes set on April and the British Trials which is the qualifying for Tokyo.”

And with Miley well aware of the danger of putting too much pressure on herself, she is doing all she can to keep her focus on her own performance. “Tokyo is, of course, the ultimate dream but I want to keep things in perspective,” she said.

“It’s going to go one of two ways – I’m going to get to Tokyo or I’m not and so I don’t want it to be this huge, crushing pressure on top of me. More than anything, I want to know that I’ve given it my absolute all.

"I can’t do any more than give it my best over the next few months so that’s all I’m concentrating on at the moment.”