Grant Hackett missed out on a medal in the 200 metres freestyle final at the Australian swimming championships in Sydney on Sunday night, but his swim felt as good as a win for the Queenslander with his fourth place and time assuring he will go to the world championships.
The former two times Olympic champion’s fourth place time of 1 minute 46.84 seconds in the event won by Cameron McEvoy of Queensland qualifies him for one of six places Swimming Australia can select for the 4x200m relay squad for the world titles at Kazan in Russia in August.
In one of the strongest fields assembled for a 200m final, Hackett, racing in lane three in the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre at Homebush, was in fifth place after 50 metres, then fourth at 100 metres and dropped to sixth at 150 metres before finishing strongly in fourth place.
The race was won by McEvoy, the defending champion from Queensland in 1:45.94. In second place was David McKeon, also of Queensland, in 1:46.33, while another Queenslander Thomas Fraser-Holmes was third in 1:46.83. Hackett’s training partner Daniel Smith finished fifth in 1:47.27.
It was a race of remarkable feats, especially by Hackett, considering he only resumed training from a six year spell from swimming six months ago.
Asked how making the Australian team felt compared to winning an Olympic gold, Hackett said: “In many ways it’s a different sort of achievement.
“If you asked me 10 years ago [about] making a relay team and that being the only thing I was on the team for that would be bitter disappointment.
“But now it’s like one of the biggest achievements of my life to make that team after such a long amount of time off – and in only such a short preparation.