Olympic swimmer Grant Hackett comeback gathers steam
Olympic swimming great Grant Hackett takes another step in his comeback following a troubled spell in retirement at the Australian swimming championships starting Friday, and is relaxed about his chances.
The 34-year-old walked away from the sport in 2008 after winning the 1500-meter freestyle at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, and claiming four world titles in the event. He won silver in the event at the 2008 Olympics.
But his life later ran into problems, with a messy divorce from singer-songwriter wife Candice Alley and allegations he smashed up his Melbourne apartment.
Last year the former 1500-meter world record-holder underwent rehab in the United States after seeking help for an addiction to sleeping pills.
He is now back under his old coach Denis Cotterell and will line up on the blocks at the national championships in Sydney.
Hackett told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the upheaval in his personal life led him back to the pool, but he was a different swimmer the second time around.
“I don’t have expectations like I did before and I sort of reserve the right to pull out at any time,” he said.
Hackett added that the championships would allow him to gauge his place among the country’s elite swimmers.
“Whilst I am enjoying it I will continue to do it but if I don’t enjoy it, I can pull out at any time because it’s not like I have set up any grand vision of this big comeback,” he said.
“I want to just enjoy swimming and hopefully swim fast.”
Despite the 1500-meter being the event where he enjoyed huge success, his comeback has focused on the 200-meter and 400-meter freestyle.
said swimming com- petitively in the 1500-meter again was currently out of his reach.
“If I really want to continue with this and if I look to going all the way to the Olympic trials next year ... it’s just really too short a time frame,” he said.
“For the time that I’ve actually had out of the sport and the fitness and the base work that actually needs to be done for a race like that, it would just be too difficult.”
Cotterell said retirement had not diminished Hackett’s work ethic.
“He trains like he used to and that’s as hard as anyone can possibly go,” Cotterell told the national broadcaster.