By Stephen J. Thomas
BRISBANE, Australia, March 9. JUST four weeks ago, Aussie distance king Grant Hackett spent two days in a hospital recovering from pneumonia after a secondary infection developed from a sinus condition he had tried to ‘work through’ during heavy training. For a brief moment it may have appeared that the 23-year-old 1500m freestyle world record-holder with an eight-year undefeated record over the 30-lap race had left the door ajar, even if just a little way, to his distance rivals for the Big Race in August.
Yesterday Hackett pulled the door firmly shut when he swam very swift times for both the 200 and 400 free at a metropolitan meet in Brisbane to show he was well recovered from the health scare last month. The Queenslander went a very hot 3:46.01 – a time that would have been still good enough for him to take the silver he ultimately won in 3:45.17 at the World Champs in Barcelona last year. Hackett swam a controlled race, splitting 1:52.4/1:53.6 for the distance.
Despite having to wait over three hours, Hackett clocked 1:47.48 for the four-lap race to beat 18-year-old Nick Sprenger (1:51.88), his gold medal teammate from the 800 relay in Barcelona. Hackett went 1:46.85 to take the 200 free bronze in Barcelona with his PR 1:45.84 from the ’02 Pan Pacs.
“It was a fraction better than we expected,” Hackett’s coach Denis Cotterell told SwimInfo.
“I wasn’t quite sure where his level would be at the weekend. Grant missed a couple of sessions due to the sinus problem this past week so overall it was a very solid effort. He had a slightly easier week in training leading up to the weekend and we begin his taper for the (Olympic) trials today,” he said.