FINA To Review World Champs Distance Schedule Following Hackett Plea

By Stephen J. Thomas

BRISBANE, Qld., May 14. A letter written by 1500 freestyle world record-holder Grant Hackett to swimming's governing body FINA has had a surprisingly swift reply.

The 23-year-old Aussie Olympic and world champion had recently written to FINA seeking an alteration to the scheduling of the 800 and 1500 free which are planned to run back-to-back, with heats and finals on four consecutive days at the world championships in Barcelona.

Today, FINA announced it will review its event schedule for the world championships to be held in July following the personal submission from Hackett.

Glenn Tasker, chief executive of Australian Swimming Inc. said a sub-committee of the governing body would examine the program at the Championships to see if there was another way of staging the events.

According to Tasker, the reply to Hackett indicated they clearly understood his complaint and have instructed the commission to look carefully at this issue. However, it is surprising that FINA has responded to the scheduling of the men's distance events at such a late stage given that many in the sport had expressed concern about the scheduling when it was announced many months ago.

Hackett has easily one of the heaviest workloads at the championships – planning to contest the individual 1500, 800, 400 and 200 freestyle as well as the 400 and 800 freestyle relays.

In his letter Hackett cited a precedent at the 2001 World Championships in Japan when the 800 heats and finals were held on days two and three and the 1500 heats and final were held on days seven and eight. "Selfishly, I don't think the scheduling will allow me to compete at my best," Hackett had said in his letter to FINA. "

Hackett had argued in his letter that the 800 and 1500 meter races – arguably the two most gruelling events at any meet – should not be scheduled so close together. He pointed out that most men's distance swimmers will also be competing in both events.

The fact Hackett had been sent a reasonable reply indicated a change might be possible, Tasker said.

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