Hackett Unhappy With FINA World Championship Schedule

By Stephen J. Thomas

SYDNEY, December 22. AUSSI 1500 freestyle world record-holder and Olympic gold medalist, Grant Hackett, this week came out with pointed criticism of FINA's scheduling of the 800m and 1500m freestyle events at the world championships in Barcelona next July.

The 1500m heats are scheduled the morning after the 800m final leaving all distance swimmers with a difficult task to lift again the next day.

In an article by leading swimming writer Wayne Smith of the Brisbane Courier Mail, Hackett was quoted as saying: "I don't know who put the Einstein helmet on and came up with that brilliant idea. It is very frustrating having to deal with a schedule like that. I know I will be fit enough to handle both events, but it is ridiculous that FINA would even have approved such a program."

At the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, the 800m heats and final were swum on the second and third days of competition, leaving plenty of recovery time before the 1500m heats on Day 7.

With 800m world record-holder, Ian Thorpe likely to skip the event and concentrate on the shorter distances in Barcelona, Hackett would have been in a perfect position to attack the world mark at the meet were it not for the scheduling. He may instead make an attempt on the record of 7:39.16 at the World Championship Trials here in March.

Hackett, who has had an outstanding year in the pool in 2002, also said in the article that his steady improvement this year was the result of eliminating the lope from his stroke. "I'm 6ft 6in (197cm) and have a very long arm span. It's hard to operate that length of body in the water. I'm getting stronger, so the technical side of my swimming is improving and I'm starting to take the lope out of my stroke."