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Skippy can be glue of the Australian team

Roar Guru
24th April, 2010
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Head coach Leigh Nugent believes the entire Australian swim team will benefit from Geoff Huegill’s spectacular resurrection, feeling his life experience and leadership could prove an ace up the Dolphins’ sleeve in the years ahead.

Huegill, who qualified for this year’s Pan Pacs and Commonwealth Games after shedding almost 50kg during his four-year retirement – was this week appointed part of the team’s leadership group.

And the 31-year-old, competing at the grand prix meet in Sydney on Saturday, is already thriving in the role following a four-day camp with the team in Canberra.

“It’s good being able to share my experiences with some of the younger guys and getting them to look at the sport a little bit differently,” Huegill said after qualifying for the 50m and 100m butterfly finals.

“Not just the way they approach a race, but the way they approach their life outside of the sport.

“I’ve always said you can’t substitute experience and when you’re away in a foreign country and you have a bad swim.

“I know when I was coming up through the ranks having some of those senior guys being able to share their experiences with me helped a lot.”

Nugent feels Huegill could fill a similar role to that of retired swimmer Daniel Kowalski, who served a liaison to the team in 2004 and 2005.

“He (Kowalski) was such a personable bloke and communicated so easily with everyone, he was a great piece of glue inside of our team,” Nugent said.

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“If there were people being upset he was a calming sort of influence before things became an issue and I suppose in many ways Geoff is playing that sort of role here, even though he’s playing more of a captain so to speak.”
Nugent said while Huegill was simply not leadership material when he was last on the team five years ago, he was now a standout candidate.

“He’s been a superstar and also struggled through muddy water as well and then in life. Beyond when he last competed for Australia, he’s been through a fair bit and probably learned a lot about life,” Nugent said.

“You can see those experiences he’s got with him now in his tool kit … we’re grateful to have him in this capacity.”