Posted on: March 20, 2013

Swimming Australia head coach Leigh Nugent quits after London Olympics debacle

By Supriyo Das

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Swimming Australia head coach Leigh Nugent quits after London Olympics debacle

Surprising yet unavoidable is the reaction that must have been everyone felt after the Swimming Australia head coach Leigh Nugent has tendered his resignation in continuation to his decision to quit his job. However, it is a great reprieve as Nugent still wants to be associated with Australia's revamped high performance swim program.

Swimming Australia president Barclay Nettlefold informed that Nugent showed interest to stay despite ongoing fallout from the Australian team's dubious and terrible London Olympics campaign.

"Leigh actually approached us to discuss his future and where he would best fit into the new structure of the high performance unit," said Nettlefold after releasing an official statement on Wednesday. "In those discussions it soon became very clear that while he still wanted to remain involved in the sport, he didn't want to continue in the position of head coach."

In contrast, Mark Anderson had been tipped to become the new Swimming Australia CEO next week. But Hockey Australia has issued a press release in the afternoon - following today's exclusive in The Daily Telegraph that the axe had fallen on Australian head coach Leigh Nugent due to the troubled London Olympic campaign.

"Hockey Australia can confirm our understanding that Mark Anderson is the preferred candidate for the CEO position at Swimming Australia," this afternoon's statement said.

"Mark is currently overseas undertaking a course at Harvard Business School that was scheduled many months ago. Hockey Australia is disappointed that this news has leaked prior to the engagement being finalised, but wishes Mark the very best of success in his new role."

Anderson has been in the role of Hockey Australia chief executive since November 2008. Nugent was not available for NSW swimming championships in Sydney which ended this weekend. While his exit from the top role isn't actually surprising as the inquest into Australia's worst Olympic performance in 20 years remains, he is the highest profile scalp in the wake of two crucial reports into the dismal performance in London handed down last month.

It also occurred when a major reshuffle at the top of Swimming Australia, with former British Swimming boss Michael Scott hopeful to be announced in a newly created role as high performance director next week. Scott – an ex director of the Australian Institute of Sport - resigned from British Swimming after the organizing country secured just one silver medal and two bronze in London. He had been earlier associated to the high performance job at Athletics Australia, and the man to replace former Swimming Australia chief executive Kevin Neill.

The renovation comes after Australia's swimming team was slammed for having a "toxic" culture, which saw athletes abuse prescription drugs, alcohol and curfews during the London Olympics. The Bluestone Review revealed a culture existed within the swim team that "did not appear to assist or support high-level performance for most people".

It is expected top swimmer Emily Seebohm gave proof to the newly formed integrity commission about the coach's inability over the relay team's performance at a pre-Games camp in Manchester would be alarming.

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