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Hackett set to move to Melbourne

By Tom Wald 05/02/2007 07:08:14 PM Comments (0)

Australian team captain Grant Hackett has taken the gamble of splitting with childhood mentor Denis Cotterell in the lead up to next year's Beijing Olympics.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist is aiming to become the first swimmer to win three straight 1500m freestyle crowns at the Beijing Games.

The endurance supremo has decided to move permanently to Melbourne following next month's world championships to live with fiancee Candice Alley - the pair due to be married in the southern capital in April.

The 26-year-old will link up with coach Ian Pope after spending two months under Pope's guidance in Melbourne last year.

"For Grant, he just wanted a bit of a change of training environment," Pope said.

The shift of training camp has some risk attached to it considering the remarkable levels of success that Hackett has achieved under Cotterell.

Cotterell is renowned for instilling a strong work ethic in his athletes and some swimmers have failed to reach the same standards after leaving his guidance.

Hackett, who missed last year's Melbourne Commonwealth Games because of shoulder surgery, was named swimmer of the meet at the 2005 world championships in Montreal.

He is the favourite to win the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle titles at next month's worlds.

Pope said: "He rang me last week and we had a chat and he sort of asked if it would be OK."

"I said `It is OK by me but you have to speak to Denis and discuss some things with him'.

"So he did, so they had a good chat about things."

Pope felt there was plenty of room for fine-tuning the 800m and 1500m world record holder's technique despite his last 1500m final defeat being more than a decade ago.

"There are certain things I think we can improve on, the important thing for Grant is he swims well off confidence so looking at ways we can build his confidence and he gets confident from training well," Pope said.

"We will be looking at his stroke and minor things we can get him better on turns and those minor things which add up over 1500m."

Pope said he would talk to Cotterell about continuing the training programs that have made Hackett so successful in past.

"We will talk to Denis prior to Grant coming into the program but he will be pretty much under my guidance," he said.

"I think we are going to use some sets from Denis and we will certainly look at what he has done in the last couple of years, I think that is very important there is not too many changes."

Hackett will train alongside Michael Klim, Matt Welsh and Pat Murphy under Pope's regime at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

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