Don’t be surprised to see Grant Hackett back at the pool despite failing to realise his Olympic dream at the Rio swimming trials in Adelaide.
Or the triple Olympic gold medallist mingling in Australian swimming team circles again.
However, Hackett was adamant his swimming career was over after walking away from the Rio Olympic trials empty handed in Adelaide on Friday night.
Hackett’s bold bid to book a fourth Olympic campaign came unstuck when he failed to qualify for the 200m freestyle final.
— Melanie McLaughlin (@Mel_Mclaughlin) April 8, 2016
Hackett – 36 in May – had hoped to become the oldest Australian swimmer to book an Olympic berth by nabbing a 4x200m freestyle relay berth.
However, Hackett vowed to remain in the pool to stay fit.
And he offered his services to the national team as a mentor ahead of the Rio Games.
“You will see me at the pool again getting fit,” he said.
“But I have no intention of returning to competition.
“As much as I liked returning to the sport, it’s very stressful and I don’t need that in my life any more.”
Yet Hackett did not rule out playing a future role for the Dolphins team – this time as a shoulder to lean on.
“I will support these guys on any level,” he said.
“The best way to support them is personally, having a chat with them, just give them a different perspective.
“If I can provide that to any of those guys I will in any capacity they want me to.”
Not that Hackett was being clingy.
A clean break from competitive swimming 16 years after claiming his first Olympic gold clearly appealed to him.
Olympic legend. Thanks Grant Hackett for all the pleasure you’ve given sporting fans over your career & last 12mnths pic.twitter.com/d3Y3qlk0nM
— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) April 8, 2016
“It’s funny. I don’t feel sad,” Hackett said.
“At some stage you have to let go of this.”
Hackett initially retired after failing to win three straight Olympic 1500m freestyle titles at the 2008 Beijing Games.
He shocked the swimming fraternity when he ended a six year hiatus and made the 2015 world titles team as a relay swimmer.
But Hackett reckoned he felt more content leaving the sport with nothing at Adelaide than when he departed with 1500m silver at Beijing.
“I am just a lot happier with where I am at with swimming in a personal sense,” he said.
“I gave it my best shot.
“To make that team would have been absolutely huge and it wasn’t to be.
“But I can get back to my normal life now.”
A mentor role may beckon Hackett but the dual Olympic champion has clearly already inspired a teammate.
“To do what he did – it’s incredible of his age,” defending 200m champ Cameron McEvoy said.
“A lot of inspiration can be drawn from that – not only from swimmers but people of any sport or age.”
There was no fairytale for Hackett.
But there were also no tears.
And certainly no regrets.