Medal won with collapsed lung, swimming great says

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australian swimming great Grant Hackett has revealed he defended his Olympic 1,500-meter freestyle title in Athens with a collapsed lung. Hackett initially told reporters at the Games that he had battled a bronchial infection but yesterday admitted its full extent after having a promotional swim in Beijing as part of an Australian Olympic Committee delegation. «My lungs were so blocked and stuffed for so long that it was partially deflated and there was fluid in there – it was fairly serious,» he told Australia’s Channel Seven. «It was thought once it cleared up there could be scar tissue on the lungs but I had a CAT scan about two weeks ago and found it was all clear.» Hackett’s coach Denis Cotterell said yesterday his star swimmer had lost up to «25 percent» of his lung capacity while competing in Athens. However, they did not tell Olympic team medical staff for fear he may be denied the right to defend his 1,500m Olympic title. «We didn’t tell anyone. We didn’t let them [medical staff] know,» Cotterell told Australian Associated Press in Brisbane. «It’s just something he raced with all the time but it was the worst that it had been. He trained and raced through this for the last nine months.» Cotterell also noted: «He told me that it was something like 25 percent of his lungs… had collapsed because they were filled with muck. There was fluid on the lining and spots on the lungs – it was pretty ugly. The concern was that there would be scar tissue as a result but he’s had a scan since and it has showed it has cleared.» Hackett has battled bronchial problems throughout his career and was hospitalized earlier this year. Cotterell said Hackett would be fit for the national titles – which double as world titles selection trials – from March 12-19 and might even contest February’s Queensland championships.