By Phillip Whitten
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona, June 3. GRANT Hackett, world record-holder in the 1500 meters freestyle, left the Australian High-Altitude Training Camp in Flagstaff, Arizona, today due to extreme fatigue and is flying back to Australia, acknowledges his coach, Dennis Cotterell.
Twenty members of the Australian Olympic team, including Ian Thorpe, Michael Klim and Hackett, have been training here at 7,000 foot-high Northern Arizona University in relative obscurity the past two weeks. They plan to train here for one more week, compete in the Janet Evans Invitational in Los Angeles, then return home to Australia.
Hackett's departure threw a crimp in his plans to get a tatoo along with teammates Thorpe aand Klim. None of the three has revealed what the tatoo was to have depicted.
Hackett, 24, unbeaten in the last six years in the 1500 meters, suffered from Epstein-Barr Syndrome at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Cotterell said. "Grant and I are determined not to let that happen again."
"He always seems to have a hiccup before a major meet," Cotterell conceded, referring to the illnesses the star swimmer has developed before several major meets.
"Grant was showing symptoms of weakness here," Cotterell said in an exclusive interview with swimInfo, "and he was unable to continue training at the intensity level he's used to. Though he was looking better this morning, we both agreed it was best that he fly home, rest over the weekend, and be ready to resume training on Monday."
"Besides," the Queensland mentor said, "it'll get me out of his face for awhile. After 50 weeks a year for 16 years, he's earned that."