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Huegill offers to help Aussie swim team

30 October 2012

SWIMMING: Seven-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and dual Olympic medallist Geoff Huegill wants to help change the mentality in the Australian swim team from "I" to "we" following his second retirement from the sport.

Huegill, who inspired Australia with his comeback to the pool at the Delhi Commonwealth Games after battling obesity and alcohol issues, announced his retirement from competitive swimming on Monday.

Instead he will channel his energies into his burgeoning corporate and mentoring careers, and spending time with wife Sara and their baby daughter Mila.

But top of his wish list is helping the under-fire Australian team - which he publicly criticised during and after the London Olympics.

Huegill, who missed selection for London, believed some individuals were more intent on looking after themselves rather than being part of a team.

Rather than sniping from the sidelines, Huegill says he wants to actively help with team building - and will hold talks with Swimming Australia in the coming days with a view to doing so.

"That's one thing I definitely noticed once I got back into it," said Huegill when asked if there was too much "I" and not enough "we" in the current Australian team.

"What a lot of these young kids hadn't realised what how intimidating and how tough it actually is to get those medals.

"One thing the sport does need is good leadership, especially with the senior athletes over there.

"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.

"Now it's time for these young kids to learn from the mistakes they've made in the past, and to really listen to those people who have been there and have the experience.

"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."

Huegill knows more than anyone about squandering opportunity while an elite sportsman.

When he retired for the first time after the 2004 Athens Olympics, his party-boy antics spiralled into obesity and alcohol abuse.

His weight ballooned to 138kg.

But after losing what he jokes was the equivalent of jockey Damien Oliver in weight, Huegill announced a stunning swimming comeback in 2007.

Three years later, he won two Commonwealth Games gold medals in Delhi in one of Australian sport's most inspiring comebacks.

Guy Hand

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