The Day Ian Thorpe Became The Youngest World Swimming Champion in History

Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett led swimming into a new era of speed [By Patrick B. Kraemer]

It was 17 years ago this day Down Under, that the wider world became aware of a 15-year-old called Ian Thorpe: another Aussie breakthrough teen, Grant Hackett, on his tail the Thorpedo became the youngest world champion among men in history (and he remains so)

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It was 17 years ago this day Down Under, that the wider world became aware of a 15-year-old called Ian Thorpe: another Aussie breakthrough teen, Grant Hackett, on his tail the Thorpedo became the youngest world champion among men in history (and he remains so)

Comments

Lane Four

The “what if” still leaves a horrible empty feeling in the stomach. Followed by, “I wish…..”

Antônio Eustaquio

I remember watching this race live as if it were yesterday. The last lap is among the greatest things I’ve ever seen in the pool.

felixdangerpants

Antonio absolutely, I show this race to the kids I coach all the time, one of the greatest swims of all time. I remember a friend of mine swimming at Aussie age in 97 & coming back to nz telling me he saw this 14 year old go 3:50. I thought he was full of bs & told him that’s impossible.

Craig Lord

Yes, Antonio, it was thrilling to be there – even at the last turn, it seemed clear that Hackett had it… the thunderous kick, the chase, the belief, the sheer joy of the race was all truly thrilling – great atmosphere in Perth that day and every day of those championships

Jason

Thanks John, what a terrific article. I have enjoyed watching Ian’s many world record swims shortly after that race, described. ian was nothing short of amazing, and to watch his long powerful stroke evolve from 1998 to 2000, just in time for that iconic 400m world record swim in Sydney, was a sight to behold. I honestly think ian influenced how freestyle technique was taught and used during and following his illustrious career.

TommyL

Off topic.

Craig, please are you able to find out about the Qualification times for Rio? I thought they would be out in December.

Many thanks.

skugi

Great article.
In my opinion the greatest technique in freestyle history and the most elegant freestyler to ever swim.
it’s still a great shame we don’t have some times from what should’ve been the best years of his career.

jman

I don’t understand the comparison of Thorpe’s times with the “shiny suit” era. Although he wore textile suits they are still illegal by today’s standards based on arm and leg length and likely also had the compression advantage.

felixdangerpants

jman Paul Biedermann is the best example. And I remember him saying when he went 3:40 that he thought the suit made a 7 second difference.

Craig Lord

Felix, he said it was 7sec because it was
The truly significant difference on the clock over 400m Paul B

3:40.07 2009 Rome shiny suit
3:44.14 2011, two years on, textile
3:47.69 2008 textile

(jman – there were others beyond Thorpe who wore full bodysuits, including the adidas suit and those textile suits may well have made a difference at the time but they made nothing remotely like the massive differential we saw with non-textile suits – and since that era, material technology has made the risks associated with greater skin cover all the more troublesome in a number of ways)

So Cal Swimmer

So good to read about this special athlete!

Torchbearer

PB breaking Thorpe’s 400m record by 0.01 sec was one of the cruellest jokes in sport history!!

Jason

Hi Jman, Ian wore briefs in 1999 when he first broke Keiren Perkins 400m world record by 2 seconds, 3:41.83. He was still 16/17 at the time and even without suits would have improved on that incredible swim over his next 5 years, and that WR in my opinion was one of his finest. Jason

skugi

Completly agree with Jason.
His 1999 WR was the best example of how little of a difference suits made at that time.

jman

Yes, i just went back and watched that race on Youtube. Completely agree. Makes it all the more confusing why he went to the full body suit.

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