Hackett to keep young swimmers honest
29 July 2015
SWIMMING: Ahead of his first world swimming titles in eight years, a rejuvenated Grant Hackett believes the pressure is on his younger rivals to keep him out of the team as he eyes more glory at the Rio Olympics.
The 35-year-old dual Olympic champion will arrive with the Australian team in Kazan, Russia on Wednesday for his sixth world titles campaign but first as solely a relay swimmer.
The ex-team captain knows he must earn his spot in the 4x200m freestyle relay final - where Australia is considered a strong podium chance - with an impressive heat swim.
However, Hackett has improved so dramatically since April's stunning 2015 national titles comeback that he believes his younger teammates will be the ones kept honest by the Rio trials.
Hackett this month confirmed he would vie for a fourth Olympic campaign next year.
His remarkable training times under coach Denis Cotterell in recent months already have Hackett backing himself to add the 200m and 400m individual events to his Rio program.
"If I am fast enough and good enough, I would love to compete in the 200m and 400m plus the relay but there are people on the team who are faster than me at the moment," he told AAP.
"For me, the pressure is really on those younger guys to continue to step up and improve which they have.
"I am at a stage now where I feel some of my (200m, 400m) times at training are probably better than some things I have seen in the past (before his 2008 retirement)."
The ex-world record holder was fourth in the 200m freestyle final at April's national trials, booking a relay berth for his first world titles since 2007.
He also claimed a shock 400m freestyle bronze at the Sydney trials - his first major meet since the Beijing Olympics after six months' training.
"I look back at the trials and it was all a bit surreal getting back onto the team - now it's business time," Hackett said.
Hackett said he was not getting ahead of himself despite his growing Rio Olympic expectations.
"I still have a lot of work to do before doing something like that (200m, 400m at Rio)," he said.
"And that would place unnecessary pressure.
"I am not sure how far I can take this.
"I am just going to continue doing it while I still enjoy it.
"And when I enjoy it, I swim fast - who knows how fast I can swim?"
Hackett will spearhead an Australian 4x200m relay squad at Kazan that features five members - including the veteran himself - ranked in this year's world top 15.
Australia's 4x200m team unexpectedly failed to make the 2013 world titles final.