Skippy signs off to become team mentor
Geoff Huegill in 2010. Photo: Kate Leith
AUSTRALIAN swimming's champion butterflyer Geoff Huegill will retire from competitive swimming convinced the squad still needs a substantial change in attitude to regain the lofty global standard it enjoyed a decade ago.
But the dual Olympian said he was looking forward to taking on a mentoring role to rebuild the team culture that appeared to implode in the lead-up to the London Olympics.
Huegill, who won the 100 metres butterfly bronze in Sydney, announced yesterday he would retire for a second - and final - time to focus on his career out of the pool.
Geoff Heugill with partner Sara. Photo: Channel Seven
Huegill and London Olympian Melanie Schlanger, who anchored the women's gold medal 4x100m freestyle relay team, engaged in a Twitter war of words in the bitter fallout to the swimming team's poor results in London. Huegill had criticised Schlanger's complaint about how little she had earned this year, saying those who had all-expenses-paid trips around the world to train and compete had no right to complain.
Yesterday, Huegill said he and Schlanger had ''both moved on'' but he held on to his views.
''I have an amazing amount of respect not only for Melanger but for all of the athletes, and I am all for athletes earning more money and I am all for athletes getting as much as they can from the sport,'' he said.
''[But] you can't go away to an Olympic Games and have the team carry on like they did before the competition and to come away without any results and ask for a pay rise.
''It would be easy to sit on the sidelines and criticise and say where the sport or the athletes went wrong but I think the most important thing now is instead of being part of the problem, it's coming together with everyone and try and work out a proper solution, and that's ultimately one of the most exciting things that I'm looking forward to for the next four years; working with these guys to hopefully put the ultimate preparation and the plan together, and know that they've got people that they can talk to or bounce ideas off [and] if anything have good role models in the sport again.''
Huegill had left his swimming career open-ended after failing to make the London squad at the national trials in March.
He made a well-publicised comeback to the pool after retiring following the 2004 Athens Olympics, when he dropped more than 40 kilograms to win two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.