By Stephen J. Thomas
GOLD COAST, Australia, May 4. IN what is simply a swimming promoter’s dream realized, Aussie distance king Grant Hackett has decided to compete at the Janet Evans Invitational at Long Beach, June 10-13, after he and his coach Denis Cotterell concluded that a change in their normal routine would be beneficial to the Olympic champion and world record-holder over 1500 meters freestyle.
This means Californian swim fans will now see a likely match-up in the 400 freestyle among world record-holder Ian Thorpe, No 1 ranked Grant Hackett and Craig Stevens – the man who stood down from his place in the 400 for Athens — need we mention? — to give Thorpe a swim following the Olympic champs’ DQ at the Aussie trials. Realistically it’s a little early to be judging performances at this stage of preparation for Athens but it will be interesting all the same.
Hackett normally sticks to the familiar black line of his Miami pool on Queensland’s Gold Coast rather than venturing overseas prior to a major meet, but this time he will also undertake two weeks of altitude training in Flagstaff, Arizona, prior to competing alongside his distance club mates Ky Hurst – the third place-getter in the 1500 at Aussie Olympic Trials – and Canadian Olympic hopeful Kurtis MacGillivary.
More than half the Aussie Olympic team will compete at Long Beach against many of the swimmers from which the US team will be drawn (as was announced in our SwimInfo story April 21).
Among those competing that were not previously mentioned will be 18-year-old Eamon Sullivan (50-100 free), the youngest male member of the Aussie Olympic team. Sullivan burst onto the team in finishing fourth in the 100 final finishing behind Olympic gold medalists Thorpe, Ashley Callus and his West Aussie clubmate, Todd Pearson, and ahead of comebacking world record -older Michael Klim.
The veteran Pearson, who will retire after Athens to a full-time job and marriage, has taken the role of mentor over Sullivan and a third member of the West Coast Club, 20-year-old Adam Lucas, who qualified for the team in the 200 IM. The three will travel to Flagstaff and Long Beach with their 33-year-old coach Grant Stoelwinder.