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Swimming Australia may turn to former head coach Alan Thompson to take over from Leigh Nugent

March 23, 2013
 Former head swimming coach Alan Thompson may return to his old job. Picture: Gregg Porteous Source: The Daily Telegraph

Former head swimming coach Alan Thompson may return to his old job. Picture: Gregg Porteous Source: The Daily Telegraph

Former head coach Alan Thompson last night opened the door ever so slightly for a possible return to his old job after confirmation that Leigh Nugent has been pushed aside in the wake of the London Olympic Games disaster.

As revealed in The Daily Telegraph , Nugent was axed on Monday following a Swimming Australia board meeting.

The hunt is now on for an interim head coach to be appointed and put in place before the Australian Championships starting on April 26.

Not for the first time and certainly not the last, Swimming Australia was in damage control yesterday, attempting to sugarcoat Nugent’s departure as a “mutual decision”.

He has stood down and will take an extended break before returning in a mentor role for other coaches.

In truth, the 61-year-old’s position was untenable as details continue to emerge about inappropriate behaviour towards female athletes from the members of the men’s 4x100m relay team during a pre-Games camp.

“The role of head coach is both physically and mentally demanding and has evolved so much since I first took over the reins in 2003,” Nugent said last night. “The time is right for me to step aside and let someone else take over. It’s been an honour and a privilege to coach the Australian swim team at the highest level, and I’m just pleased that I’m able to stay involved in the sport that I love.

“I have every confidence that our elite swimmers and coaches will embrace the challenge of returning our sport to the lofty heights that we are capable of, and if I can play a small part in that from a development sense, then I will.”

Last night, Stephanie Rice’s coach Michael Bohl and Thompson – who Nugent replaced in 2009 and now works at the Bulldogs – were being touted as possible replacements.

“I’m very happy at the Bulldogs but you never say never,” Thompson said. “I really believe swimming needs some strong leadership, and quickly.”I can’t say I’m interested because I haven’t been asked the question, but I would never say never.”

Swimming Australia president Barclay Nettlefold also confirmed Hockey Australia boss Mark Anderson’s appointment as chief executive would be finalised next week. He also insisted Nugent had resigned.

“Leigh actually approached us to discuss his future and where he would best fit into the new structure of the high performance unit,” he said “In those discussions it soon became very clear that while he still wanted to remain involved, he didn’t want to continue in the position of head coach.”

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