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Hackett backs swim team's new culture

30 July 2015

SWIMMING: Watching pool-side as a TV commentator, Grant Hackett admits he saw a "fragmented" Australian swimming team ahead of their ill-fated London Olympic campaign.

However, the returning dual Olympic champion believes the current Dolphins squad ahead of the world titles in Russia reminds him of the "iconic" team he once led.

At 35, the comeback king has arrived in Kazan for his first world titles since 2007 after a remarkable return at April's national trials following a six-year break.

And in a shot in the arm for the rebuilding Dolphins, Hackett believes not much has changed in the team's culture since he initially walked away after the 2008 Olympics.

Much to his pleasant surprise.

Hackett admits the signs were obvious the Australian team had no chemistry as he took up his commentary post at the London Games.

Reviews later confirmed a "toxic" team environment following Australia's worst Olympic performance in 20 years.

While sweeping changes ensued, the inspirational ex-captain had been seen as the man to further boost morale after earning a shock world titles berth at Kazan.

But Hackett reckons there is no difference to the current Dolphins team and the one he fondly farewelled at Beijing.

"A lot of people ask me if it is a lot different to what it was before and my answer is always 'not really'," Hackett told AAP.

"It feels like a very happy team to be on.

"There's a strong culture, a good energy and everyone is focused on performance."

Unlike London.

"Back then the team felt very fragmented, people were almost feeling isolated because it wasn't a very supportive team," Hackett admitted.

"There was a lot culture issues and that reflected in performance.

"But this team has done a lot of work.

"They have copped it on the chin and said 'this is not where we want to be, we want to be the great, iconic team we have been over the years'.

"They have made some huge steps forward and hopefully that reflects in the performance in Kazan."

Still, Hackett believes he can add to the team culture as he bides his time waiting for his crack at his sole event at Kazan, the 4x200m freestyle relay.

"Every time you step into that team you have a job to do and part of that is contributing to the culture and comradery," he said.

Like the Dolphins, Hackett has also reversed his fortunes after a very public battle with sleeping pill addiction following his marriage break-up.

"Away from the pool I have been able to get through a lot of stuff and I feel that is all behind me now," he said.

"At the moment everything is very positive in life."


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