By Ian Hanson
MELBOURNE, October 9. DANIEL Kowalski, a member of Australia's gold medal winning 4×200 meter freestyle relay squad at the Sydney Olympic Games and 1996 Olympic triple medalist, will make a 1500 meter freestyle comeback at this week's Telstra Australian Short Course Championships, starting in Melbourne on Thursday.
Kowalski will join other members of Australia's Olympic swimming team, including gold medalists Grant Hackett, Michael Klim, Todd Pearson and William Kirby and backstroke sensation Matt Welsh. All will turn out in force this week for the Telstra Australian Short Course Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
More than three-quarters of the team will be on show over the four days – October 12,13,14 and 15 – just three weeks after their record-breaking efforts at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Kowalski, who will enter hospital in December for shoulder surgery, has already committed himself to another Olympic campaign.
The 25-year-old from the Gold Coast only contested the 200 meter freestytle at this year's Australian Championships after returning from shoulder surgery which forced him out of last year's Pan Pacific Championships.
"I'm not ready to retire from something I love too much," said Kowalski, who returned to training at Miami pool last week.
"I have decided to set my goals on the next Olympic team and will swim the 1500 metres in Melbourne in the last meet before my surgery in December."
The retirement of Kieren Perkins leaves Kowalski's Miami training partners, Olympic champion Grant Hackett and Millennium Commonwealth Games Youth champion Stephen Penfold heading the 1500 metres stakes for next year's World Championships.
Klim, the 22-year-old Melbourne star, collected two gold and two silver medals and broke one individual and two relay world records in an awesome display and will swim in the freestyle and butterfly sprint events over the four-day short course meet.
Hackett emerged from the depths of despair in the 200 and 400m to successfully take Perkins 1500 metre crown, while Pearson and Kirby combined with Klim and Ian Thorpe, to take gold in a world record breaking time in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay.
Australians see Welsh as the heir apparent to Lenny Krazelburg's backstroke crowns, winning silver in the 100m and 4×100 meter medley relay and bronze in the 200 meter. Krayzelburg, however, has no intention of retiring in the forseeable future.
The 23-year-old Surrey Park star has not stopped training since the Olympics and was also one of the star attractions at the Melbourne Telstra 2000 Parade on Wednesday.
"It has certainly been a whirlwind couple of weeks and I'm actually looking foward to swimming in front of my home crowd again," said Welsh.
"The Olympics was just the best experience of my life and I can't wait for the next four years, it should be very exciting indeed."