At Atlanta 1996, Daniel Kowalski became the first swimmer since 1904 to win a medal in the 200, 400 and 1500 metres freestyle events at the same Olympic Games. He finished second in the 1500 metres, where Kieran Perkins defended his Olympic title from Barcelona 1992 after being the last qualifier for the final. In the 200 and 400 metres he finished third, both times behind the gold medals of Danyon Loader of New Zealand.
By winning the 4 x 200 metres relay at the 1998 world championships, Kowalski, Klim, Hackett and Ian Thorpe put Australia on top of the world rankings in the event for the first time since 1956. At Sydney 2000, Kowalski and Hackett picked up gold medals for their heat swims when Thorpe, Klim, Todd Pearson and William Kirby won the final in the 4 x 200 metres relay. Although injury and illness plagued Kowalski during his career he garnered many medals and records, in individual and relay events, at world championships, Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs from 1993 until 2000.