Swimmers brave cold for Kieren Perkins
By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.com.au
THE COLD morning air was only a minor distraction for Gladstone's best young swim- mers who were treated to a visit from Olympic gold medallist Kieren Perkins on Saturday.
Perkins was in the Harbour City for the Qantas Regional Swim Clinic and 44 of the area's top swimmers made sure they were at the Gladstone Aquatic Centre to see and learn from him.
The three-time Olympic gold medallist clocks up the frequent flyer miles doing these clinics and couldn't wait to seeing the best Gladstone had to offer.
'It is nice to be in Gladstone, I really enjoy visiting the regional areas and seeing the talent on show,' Perkins said.
'The chance to get out and about to promote swimming is fantastic.'
In fact, Perkins is busier now than when he retired in 2001 with a variety of interests and family keeping him busy.
But he always enjoys getting back around the pool and meet- ing Australia's swimming stars of the future.
'I enjoy taking part in these clinics, they provide me with a chance to coach and help out young swimmers,' he said.
'If I can help out in a small way, then hopefully that is a good thing for the future of swimming in Australia.'
And that future looks bright with Australia enjoying a great swimming era since the poor Montreal Olympics in 1976.
Perkins believes the current Australian team is doing well, with the girls leading the way.
'The Australian team is doing very well at the moment, the girls are just flying and the men are going OK,' he said.
'Grant (Hackett) is doing fab- ulously well, I have been most impressed with how he has de- veloped into a fine swimmer and person,' he said.