In 2013, after he had given up hope on returning to the pool, legendary Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe told the Sunday Telegraph that he wanted to help Swimming Australia reach the top of the swimming mountain once again, “I have put my hand up to assist because I think I have something to offer,” said Thorpe.
”I would like to be able to not only mentor what’s the senior element, but probably be more actively involved in the junior development in the sport.”
Swimming Australia’s President Joe Betrand now intends on taking Thorpe up on his offer and has also invited both Grant Hackett and Susie O’Neill to become involved with mentorship opportunities with the organization, “Interestingly enough, most of these people have never been asked,” Bertrand told the Courier-Mail.
“For whatever reason we are not very good at that in terms of using that experience, knowledge and wisdom.”
Thorpe is one of the most iconic swimming figures in the history of the sport. He won three gold and two silver medals at the 2000 Olympics and added another two gold, one silver and one bronze at the 2004 games. Throughout his career Thorpe set 13 individual long course world records.
Hackett won the Olympic gold in the 1500 freestyle in both the 2000 and 2004 games. On top of winning the men’s distance titles at two consecutive Olympics Hackett also won an additional gold at the 2000 games swimming in the prelims of the 4 x 200 freestyle relay and held the 1500 freestyle world record for just over a decade. Hackett was also the captain of the Australian swim team from 2005-2008.
O’Neill was known as ‘Madame Butterfly’ taking over that title from Mary T Meagher once she broke the American’s 200 butterfly world record that stood from almost 20 years. She also won the 200 butterfly at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and then the 200 freestyle at the 2000 games in Sydney. In all O’Neill won eight Olympic medals in a combination of the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.
“We had Grant Hackett, Susie O’Neill very excited to be involved,” Bertrand said.
“The opportunity is enormous. The question is these young people, who they remember.
“We remember further back. But the more current batch, the Grant Hacketts and so on are held in super high esteem by the current swimmers.”
Hackett will be in attendance at the BHP Billiton Super Series in Perth this coming weekend.
Betrand feels that the entire organization can benefit from the knowledge of the swimming greats, “We can use their knowledge, their mentoring role, general wisdom and guidance on competing at the highest level and beyond,” Bertrand said.
“Not only for the athletes, but also for the administration. We can’t get enough knowledge here.”
“When we talk about world-best practice, we have world-best practice who have just recently retired at the cutting edge.”
“These people have performed and they have faced their fears and they have done it, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to add value here.”