By Steve Thomas
Queensland, Australia – Kieren Perkins was successful in his first competitive event since his disastrous Pan Pacific Championships meet two months ago. The world 1500m freestyle record-holder and dual Olympic gold medalist, outclassed a quality field of surf and pool swimmers to win the 1999 Noosa Eyeline 1000 Ocean Swim. He edged out noted surf swimmer and World Championship 5km silver medalist Ky Hurst by four seconds. Perkins was delighted with the win and glad to silence the not so kind local media coverage that he was “over the hill”. He is looking for an improved showing at the US Open in a couple of weeks where he will travel with a large Queensland team that includes Grant Hackett, the man likely to take his world mark in the near future. Perkins will swim the 400m and 1500m as well being part of the 800m freestyle relay. His long-time coach John Carew told Swimming World he felt team management should have withdrawn Perkins from his Pan Pac events in Sydney after he suffered a debilitating stomach virus that stripped 8 lbs off his weight just prior to the meet. Carew said Perkins had struggled both mentally and physically to recover from the Pan Pac experience but was making up good ground at training in recent weeks.
Also in Queensland another of the Aussie distance champions, triple Olympic medalist Daniel Kowalski was declared fit to compete at the US Open in Texas. Kowalski, who took the silver medal behind Perkins in Atlanta, has not raced since undergoing shoulder surgery in June. He will make a final decision to compete in Texas next week.
Former middle distance champion Hayley Lewis was another veteran to perform well in the Noosa swim. Looking very fit and strong, she took out the women’s event and has been back in the pool since January after the birth of her first child. She is also training with John Carew and plans to race in the forthcoming domestic season in a bid to win Olympic selection in the 800m freestyle. Ranked number one in the world over 800m in mid 90′s, she was never able to capture that form in Olympic competition.