You might think that Kieren Perkins was one of those people who could swim perfectly when they were 2 years old. This is very far from the case. He didn't actually start swimming properly until he was eight years old.
Kieren didn't like swimming much and hated putting his face in the water. He never wanted to become a famous swimmer and instead aspired to become a jockey, even though he was the tallest kid in his class.
"I had this great aversion to putting my head in the water, you know, face down, and the coach used to walk along the edge of the pool with a broom and sort of pushing my head under as we were going along, and they weren't pleasant memories I have to say. And it got to the point where we'd learn with these big foam kickboards and every few weeks we'd progress along and he'd break it in half, so you'd have a little bit less kickboard to float with, until it got to the point where I had, like, an inch square piece of foam. But I wouldn't go near the water if I didn't have that piece of foam in my hand."
One day when Kieren was 8 he was chasing his younger brother Jared through the house. Kieren was running so fast he was unable to stop and he smashed right through a door, which was made of plate glass. The impact was so huge his neighbours thought there had been an explosion.
Kieren was rushed off to hospital, where they attempted to patch him up with 87 stitches. The glass had severed his left calf muscle, and nearly severed an artery. At one stage they thought he would never walk again.
However eventually he was discharged from hospital, but he couldn't walk at all, not even with crutches. The doctors recommended swimming as a way of healing his leg. His parents had to carry him to the pool of his coach, John Carew.
Kieren spent 3 months on a kicking board trying to strengthen his legs. At the end of this time he could walk again. Luckily he made a full recovery and all that's left of his shattering experience is a big scar on his left leg.
Kieren kept up his swimming. He got better but didn't show that much talent till he was 13. He always just wanted to do the best he could possibly do. This can be illustrated by the fact that when Kieren was about 10 he'd just come last in this race by a couple of metres. He jumped out of the pool and rushed up to the stands with this big smile on his face and all he said to his parents was "Is that my best time? Did I do my best time?" :)
When Kieren was 13 his coach introduced him to distance swimming and when he was 14 he won the State 400m title, beating Grant Hackett's brother Craig :) When he was 15 he won the National 400m and 1500m titles. That was when he decided to make swimming his profession. He swam about 80km a week before and after school.
When Kieren was 16 he began swimming his standard 16km a day. At the 1990 Commonwealth Games at 16 he became the 3rd person in history to break 15 minutes for 1500m and also still is the youngest to do so.
In 1991 Kieren started breaking world records and winning world events and since then he has never looked back. But all he's ever wanted to do is his best.
His best just happens to be the best ever!
This page written 23/01/1998