CANBERRA, Australia, June 5. A change of heart by Grant Hackett could add intrigue to the World Championships in Montreal. After originally indicating he would swim only the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles, the Australian distance ace is seriously contemplating the addition of the 200 free. The development was reported by Nicole Jeffery in the Courier Mail.
At the Australian World Championship Trials, Hackett won the 200 free but declared his intention to bypass the event in Montreal. In recent weeks, however, Hackett has contemplated adding a fourth individual discipline, thanks to positive training results. An official decision is expected in the next week, after Hackett discusses the possibility with Alan Thompson, Australia’s National Team coach.
With Olympic silver medalist Pieter van den Hoogenband pulling out of the World Champs last week, due to hernia surgery, Michael Phelps was left as the clear favorite for gold. Ian Thorpe, the Olympic gold medalist, long ago announced he would skip the meet. In the absence of van den Hoogenband and Thorpe, there is a greater chance for Hackett to medal, despite a grueling schedule.
At the Olympics, Hackett placed fifth in the 200 free. But, he holds the year’s fastest time (1:46.20), slightly quicker than Phelps’ seasonal best of 1:46.44. Hackett and Phelps will certainly meet in the 400 freestyle, where Hackett won Olympic silver in Athens.
"At the trials he thought it was highly unlikely that he would swim it, but now he thinks he might have a go," Thompson said in the Courier Mail. "The entries don't close for a while so that's not a problem but we need to talk about the impact this might have on his other events, and on the 4×200 freestyle.”