There are 3 articles on this page:
Perkins' 1500m top effort (16/12/89)
Silver Star Kieren (11/02/90)
Houseman learns distance lesson from schoolboy (14/10/90)

This was the first article ever written about Kieren.

The Courier Mail, December 16, 1989

Perkins' 1500m top effort

By Wayne Smith

ADELAIDE: Kieren Perkins did not stand a chance of receiving recognition at the Commonwealth Games swimming selection trials.

Even event winners at this meet have been swamped by the flood of attention deservedly paid to Glen Houseman so what hope had the 16-year-old minor place getter in Houseman's 1500m freestyle?

Yet the one man standing above the floodplain, objectively waiting and watching to see what comes out in the wash, Australian head coach Don Talbot, did not miss Perkins' swim, nor did he miss its significance.

While Houseman predictably was cruising to victory on Thursday night, Perkins was locked in an enthralling race within a race with fellow Queenslander Michael McKenzie for 2nd.

It took guts for a raw teenager to attempt to mix it stroke for stroke with the only man ever [then, Perkins has done 3 in a row in same event...] to win gold medals at 3 successive Pan Pacific Championships, but Perkins fought all the way.


16-year-old Kieren wins Commonwealth silver in 14:58.08

Kieren (background) wins silver at the Jan 1990 Commonwealth Games in 14:58.08


The significance of Perkins' swim was not his placing but his time, 15:19.94. That might be 26 sec behind Houseman's defacto world record, but it still ranks as the 6th fastest in the world this year, 3rd fastest in the Commonwealth and 6th on the Australian all time list.

Talbot was ecstatic. 'Houseman's pseudo world record obviously is the swim of the meet, and Angus Waddel's 50m freestyle is right up there as well, but if I had to nominate the biggest bonus to come out of these trials as far as Australia is concerned it would be Perkins' permormance in the 1500m," Talbot said.

"It may well be he is the boy to keep Houseman honest during the 1990's," he added.

Not that Talbot was taken by surprise. He coached Perkins on the Australian team's tour of Europe in June and was extremely impressed with the disdain the youngster showed for big name reputations, and particularly the way he battled world 200m freestyle record holder Georgio Lamberti in his home pool. Mentioning Perkins in the same breath as Houseman seems preposterous, but consider this: 2 years ago, when he was 16, Houseman was not swimming anywhere near the time Perkins lodged on Thursday evening.

In January 1990 at age 16, Kieren won the silver in the 1500m at the Commonwealth Games in 14:58.08, becoming only the 3rd person in history to break 15min and is still the youngest to do so. He soundly beat Michael McKenzie and finished less than 3 seconds behind Glen Houseman. It was the last time Houseman would ever beat Perkins in a major international competition.

Silver Star Kieren

The Sunday Mail 11 FEB 1990

A JAGGED piece of broken glass could be responsible for shaping the world swimming record books over the next few years. The glass belonged to a window in the Brisbane home of Kevin and Gloria Perkins. When their son Kieren put his foot through the pane 8 years ago, it set in motion a swimming career which could bring a world 1500m record.

Perkins' badly slashed right calf muscle resulted in three months on crutches followed by a recovery program which included sessions of kicking work in the swimming pool.

Suddenly young Perkins, who had only dabbled with swimming at primary school, discovered he had an affinity with the water.

Last week Brisbane Boys' College's most celebrated student returned from the Auckland Commonwealth Games with the 1500m silver medal, and immediately plunged headlong into his most important school year.

Perkins may have pushed his Queensland team-mate Glen Housman to within a second of Vladimir Salnikov's world mark, but the day after stepping off the plane from Auckland he was back at school, his thoughts on this year's examinations.

The most remarkable aspect of his swim in Auckland was that it was achieved on a workload almost half that of his opposition.

"I found it really tough last year to balance training and school," the newly-inducted school prefect said.

"Towards the end I was falling asleep in class every now and then."

"Schoolwork is important enough for me to give up swimming this year. I'll be doing enough to get a taste of the water, but that's all."

"Last year was probably my worst for school results. I passed everything, but the marks were not great.  The work gets harder in the last two years of school and I can't combine the two."

Perkins was a late starter in swimming. His first serious stint in the pool was at the age of 12, and he did not swim his first 1500m race until he was 14.

Under champion distance coach John Carew, the early mentor of Brisbane's last great 1500m freestyler Steve Holland, Perkins has sliced almost two minutes off his earliest time of 16min 55.67sec.

"In some ways I am glad I did not start swimming earlier," he said. "A lot of the guys who were age grade superstars when I began are not around now."

Both Kieren and his father Kevin attribute much of the Games success to the work of Carew and assistant coach Chuck Ardron.

"In my opinion there are very few coaches around who can train and prepare a world class 1500m  swimmer," said Kevin Perkins. "Kieren is extremely lucky that one of the few is John Carew." Perkins still has at least five years before he begins to reach his peak in swimming's most gruelling distance event;  and, while most experts believe it is only a matter of time until Housman officially breaks Salnikov's mark, he may yet be beaten to the punch by Perkins.

While most swimmers use the time before their races to plan strategy and concentrate on the task ahead, Perkins has to make a conscious effort to switch off and forget he is about to compete. An intensely nervous youngster, he often verged on becoming physically sick before major races. Ardron has worked on the problem, and Perkins now uses a routine of walking
around and listening to music before high-pressure races.

"When I was young I used to sit down before a race feeling sick and looking as though someone was coming to take me away. Chuck has helped me to walk around and think about anything but the race."

Thoroughbred horses are the second love of Perkins' life, and as a youngster he dreamed of becoming a jockey, even though he was always the tallest in his class from the time he started school.

"I love horses and four of us from our swim team (including Games butterfly bronze medallist Jason Cooper) have a dream that one day we could run a stud."

"I'm pretty good at graphic drawing and I would like to design the place as well as help look after the horses. It's probably only a dream, but what's wrong with having a dream?"


14 Oct 1990, Sydney Morning Herald

 BRISBANE: Schoolboy Kieren Perkins taught Australia's unofficial world record holder Glen Housman a lesson in distance swimming last night when he led all the way to win the 1,500m freestyle at the world championship selection trials.

At the Commonwealth Games in Auckland it was Housman who won through to take the gold medal, with Perkins falling in behind to take the silver and become the third man in history to go under the 15-minute mark.

At the Commonwealth Games trials it was also Housman who broke through the world record of 14min 54.76s to clock 14min 53.59s, a mark he was unable to claim because of a timing fault.

Earlier this week Housman, 19, who trains with Laurie Lawrence protege Ian Findlay, said Perkins would not be able to crack the 15-minute barrier on his own.

Last night the clash between the two Brisbaners failed to result, with Perkins doing it by himself. He stayed on world record pace until the 800m mark. At no time did Housman figure in the plot, trailing in second place through to the end.

Perkins won in a cracking 15min 4.66s-the third-fastest time in the world this year. Housman was a distant second but still under the qualifying time for the world championships in 15min 15.55s.

Perkins, 17, was delighted with the upset result, especially after having gone into the trials after only three to four months' training.

"I'm pretty happy with the time," he said. "To have gone so fast is great. I'm not totally prepared and I'm not fully tapered. It gives me a lot of confidence for the Worlds (World Championships) where I'd like to do the world record."

Housman, who stayed in the pool looking stunned with his goggles in his mouth, said he could not have gone any faster last night.

A change in his stroke to make it longer had left him short, but he vowed to return in three months in Perth, where he would be ready for Perkins and whoever else the world wanted to throw at him.

"I just could not come back at him tonight," Housman said. "But I don't like getting beaten anytime. If he went out that fast he didn't bring it home that good," he said, referring to Perkins's ability to win a race on his own.