Inside with Brett Hawke: Daniel Kowalski

By Fitter and Faster Staff

Dan Kowalski is one of those legendary distance swimmers hailing from Australia. He showed tremendous range at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics by winning Silver in the 1500 and Bronze in both the 200 and 400 Freestyles.

They discuss…

Coming from a small team in Adelaide.
Kids are specializing earlier now. How did it start for you?Immigrating from Singapore.
“I loved it.” Referring you swimming as a kid. Loved the discipline.
Getting swimming world magazine as a kid.
1984 Olympics: “How the hell do I get to this thing?”
What type of age group coach did you have? David James. Mapped from Dave Salo. Great teammates, close knit group. Disciple and responsibility.
“Holy shit this guy can swim!” – Brett on Dan
Being a relay swimmer that wins a Gold medal at the Olympics. “Always on the outside looking in.”
A deep dive into his mental prep and his mental state as a competitor throughout Trials and Olympics in 1996:
1996 Australian Trials. Kieren Perkins misses out on the 400 and the 200. “What’s it feel like to be the most hated person in Australia?”
Internalizing and trying to deal with it on his own.
When and where are these thoughts coming from? Training camp. Putting the cart before the horse.
Had a strict plan and couldn’t stick to it.
Internal chat.
The 400 Free in Atlanta. Bad warmups.
“The mental side of it can have a physical side effect!” – Brett
Couldn’t turn it off.
“Just talking about it changes thing. Recognizing it. Identifying it.” – Brett
The 1500 in Atlanta. Kieren is in Lane 8. “Australia vs. the World.”
What’s the self talk that’s going on? “I don’t want to be there.” The dream turned into a nightmare.
Kieren taught me how to swim the 1500. We break the backs of our competitors from the beginning.

Dan Kowalski’s Most Memorable Swim Sets:
10×400’s on 4:20 holding under 4:05
1×500 under 5:05
1×1000 under 10:10
1×1500 under 15:15

And much, much more!