Huegill Retires (Again) & Offers Help
Oct 29, 2012 - Craig Lord
The Olympic 100m butterfly bronze medallist and 2010 comeback swimmer of the year, Geoff Huegill retired from swimming for the second time today - and then offered his help to Australia's next generation as the sport faces a review into its performance at London 2012.
Described as a "flop" by some media, Australia's disappointment was relative: its swimmers returned home from the 2012 Games with 10 medals in the pool, just one of those gold. The bigger issue is an alleged breakdown in team culture and disharmony away from the pool.
Accusations of pranks, including late-night joke phone calls and banging on doors at the team hotel on camp in Manchester before the Games and alleged flouting of rules forbidding a sleep aid by male sprinters who arrived in London favourites for the 4x100m free but finished fourth triggered complaints from team members.
If the sprinters have come in for most criticism then senior staff have been chided over their inability to control the situation.
Huegill, meanwhile, hopes to improve the mentality of a team who left London as the first Aussie team in 20 years to miss solo gold in the race pool.
"What a lot of these young kids hadn't realised was how intimidating and how tough it actually is to get those medals," Huegill told reporters Down Under today. "It's time for these young kids to learn from the mistakes they've made ...(and) to really listen to those people who have been there and have the experience."
As part of his own comeback, who overcame obesity, alcohol problems and depression. His reward was health, a new outlook and the 2010 Commonwealth 100m 'fly crown.
He retired after Athens 2004, which is when his troubles began, including packing on the bulk: he ballooned to 138kg. He now believes his experience can help the next wave.
"One thing the sport does need is good leadership," said the 33-year-old, who missed the Olympic team this year. "In a time of need, it would be a selfish thing for me if I turned my back on the sport and walked away with all the support I had given to me when I was at the top."
Huegill is set for talks with Swimming Australia in an effort to see what he might do to help swimmers become more aware of their responsibilities.
"Hopefully we can bring the right group of people together and build the team into that 'we' mentality and come away with some better results in Rio in 2016," said Huegill.