By Dave Denniston
CARLSBAD, California, February 13. AT last week's Commonwealth Games Trials in Australia, one race in particular stood out for me: the 100-meter freestyle. Oh sure, Ian Thorpe won, as to be expected, but very little was written about how he was actually challenged in that race.
Some people have said that what Brett Hawke did was idiotic, some argue it was brilliant. In the final of the 100 free, Hawke took the race out in a blistering 22.6 and led the field through 98 meters. Thorpe and the rest of the field passed him under the flags and Hawke was wheeled off in a wheelchair and given oxygen, literally. Brett's specialty, the 50 free, was the next day.
Later Hawke said this about his race, "It isn't like me to swim a race for third or fourth place. A lot of people said I should try to come home the last fifteen meters like Thorpe does, but that isn't my race either. So I swam it the way I wanted to, and Thorpe was watching me the whole time. It was my last hundred ever, and I literally gave it all I had. I have no regrets."
Two days later, Hawke claimed the 50 freestyle national championship for the fifth time in seven years. While Australia (a country obsessed with swimming) didn't make a big deal out of Hawke's performance, we know in the United States what a big deal the 50 really is. Everything has to be perfect because it happens so fast. Brett Hawke has been perfect five times for his country!
Hawke is the epitome of a racer. He doesn't care what it feels like, who's watching or which event is next; he is going to win the race he is swimming. Or, as was apparent in the 100, die trying. His mentality is unique in that he is always tenacious and he NEVER backs down. Brett Hawke is the type of guy you always want on your team, and pray you never have to race. Every time that he swims it's a treat to watch because you know you are watching 100% of what a person is made of and is willing to give of himself for one race.
These days everyone wants to be like Mike or be like Thorpe, but I've always wanted to be like Brett. Here is part of an e-mail Hawke recently sent out stating some of things that he believes:
"Here are some things that I believe:
1. You make your own opportunities in life. People say…if only they could get the opportunity, but they are waiting for an opportunity to come along wrapped up in a ribbon. The doors that open in life sometimes open sideways and you don't even notice them.
2. Everyone is preoccupied waiting for their big swim. There's no big swim, or very rarely. It's using the opportunities that present themselves and then running them into the ground!
3. ANALOGY: The building site never looks worse than when the foundations have been laid. Beforehand it’s a nice piece of dirt. Then, when the foundations are laid there's scrap everywhere. But when the foundations are laid, then you can start to make it happen. GET IN AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!"