Wrapping up his temporary training stint in Tempe, Australian distance legend-turned-comeback-kid, Grant Hackett, is now reflecting on how valuable even his short time training with 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, along with other stand-out American athletes over the past few weeks, has been.
Preparing for his trip to America back in November, Hackett said his goal was simply to mix up his training and gain exposure from another high performance squad. At the time, Hackett stated, “Sometimes you can just take things too seriously and breaking up the training a little bit and going to train with the likes of Michael and (his coach Bob Bowman), seeing what they do, it’s good to get some new ideas and see how they approach things. Sometimes it’s good to mix it up a bit and have a bit of variety in your training instead of doing the same thing.”
As part of his trip to the United States, Hackett bypassed his own nation’s Short Course Championships and instead competed at the U.S. Nationals in Federal Washington. There, he placed 13th in the men’s 400m freestyle (3:55.88) and 28th out of prelims in the 200m freestyle (1:52.12).
Tacked on to the end of his American adventure was a promotional training trip to New York as part of a product launch for his sponsor, Speedo. There, he was joined by fellow Speedo athletes Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Tyler Clary.
Of his entire experience, Hackett commented, “You always learn something when you train with athletes of that calibre. I went head-to-head with Ryan [Lochte] while he was doing his underwaters and I learned a lot from that. After six years out of the pool, I am probably getting more from them than they are from me.”
At age 35 and having sat out 6 years in a period of retirement before taking to the pool again in January of this year, Hackett also acknowledges that, “The sport evolved while I was away, particularly on the skills side of things so there’s lots of little things I can pick up.’’
Specific to training with Phelps out in Arizona, Hackett said, “I really, really enjoyed that, it was nice to go somewhere and have a single focus and sit in there and see how they approach training. I stayed with Michael for some time. He’s been through his ups and downs as I have and we talked very candidly about those things. He’s a very insightful character. His level of focus at the moment is like he’s going to his first Olympics again. It’s incredible.”
Continued Hackett on Phelps’ well-known trait of being laser focused, “When you see the intensity that Michael Phelps approaches his training with, the expectation he places on himself, you want to make sure you go back and do everything right. That’s given me more clarity about what I need to do to be competitive.’’
Personalizing his own unique mission headed into Rio, Hackett insightfully says, “When I look at my birth certificate I know it’s not my first Olympics but this campaign is also like a rebirth for me. I have come back to it with a totally different perspective. The last three times I went to the Olympic trials I was already thinking about winning the Olympics, not about making the team.’’
“When I came back there were two big things I wanted to achieve. I was very determined to get every single thing out of myself given my age, but I also wanted to enjoy it and do it on my own terms. Part of that is trying new things”, he expressed.
Hackett will continue doing things on his own terms as he returns to his regular training squad at the Miami Swimming Club pool on the Gold Coast under coach Denis Cotterell.