SYDNEY, AUS, February 8, 2005. DUAL Olympic 1500m champion Grant Hackett is a hot pick to become the first official captain of the Australian swimming team in 24 years, per reports by Rebecca Williams of the Australian paper The Daily Telegraph listed on the Fox-Sports-Australia’s website.
Swimming Australia's board announced yesterday it would appoint a captain for the first time since the 1980 Olympics for this year's world championships in July.
President Neil Martin hoped the new captain would carry the same status as other national team leaders such as cricket's Ricky Ponting and the Wallabies' George Gregan.
"We believe there is a real status attached to the Australian swimming team and like our other national teams, the Australian swimming team also warrants a team captain," Martin said.
Max Metzker and Lisa Forrest were the last official captains, leading the 1980 Olympic swimming team to Moscow.
The Australian team has more recently been represented by a leadership group. Hackett, Brett Hawke, Regan Harrison, Todd Pearson, Giaan Rooney, Brooke Hanson, Sarah Ryan and Petria Thomas were the eight leaders appointed to the 2004 Olympic team.
While the captain won't be named until after the team for the world championships is announced in Sydney on March 19, Hackett is an obvious candidate for the captaincy.
With Ian Thorpe not expected to compete at this year's world titles, Hackett has the profile and backing within the team to take on the role.
Hackett's support among the swimmers was evident when they elected him as their spokesman in 2003.
Veteran sprinter Hawke said he had long lobbied Swimming Australia to appoint a team captain. And he regarded Hackett as the best person to take on the post. "My thoughts have always been that Grant Hackett would be the perfect person for this position," Hawke said. "I've always thought that he's a great leader. He leads in and out of the water. "Grant's definitely the person for the job."
Head coach Alan Thompson was hesitant to single out anyone for the role, but said Hackett would be a great choice if he was selected. "The athletes elected him as the spokesperson from that [leadership] group and he's done a sensational job with that," Thompson said. "I think we've all seen the way he handles himself and he would be a good choice if the board so chose to pick him," said Thompson.