Updated: Oct 25
Geoffrey Andrew Huegill (born 4 March 1979) is an Australian swimmer and dual Olympian who won seventy-two international medals, including two medals in Olympics and six world champion titles, throughout his career. He held eight world records, including 50 metres butterfly.
Huegill has been recognised as technically the best butterflier and was the dominant butterfly champion during the early 2000s.
Huegill was born on 4 March 1979 in Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory. His mother, Kanthong Jum Summart, is from Chaiyaphum, Thailand while his father, Ronald Huegill, was a miner. Huegill grew up in Mackay and has an older brother, Graeme.
Huegill started swimming in Mackay and showed talent from an early age.
He joined coach Ken Wood’s squad on invitation, at the age of 11. After the death of his father due to a heart attack, Geoff started to live with his coach permanently.
In 1996, Huegill burst onto the international stage at the Mare Nostrum tour. The same year, at the age of 17, he broke the first of his many world records as part of a FINA sanctioned medley relay time trial in Melbourne, Australia.
At the 2000 Australian Championships in Sydney which doubled as the Olympic qualifying trials, Huegill broke the 50 meters butterfly world record swimming a time of 23.60 seconds.
At the Sydney Olympics in 2000 Huegill broke the olympic record in the 100 meters butterfly semi-final with a time of 51.96 seconds and was the fastest qualifier leading into the finals. He placed third in the final scoring bronze with a time of 52.22 seconds. Huegill also won a silver medal in the 4x100 meters medley relay.
In 2001, at the FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan the 50 meters butterfly was introduced as an inaugural event and Huegill beat his previous world record time and won gold in a time of 23.44 seconds. He also won a gold medal in the 4x100 meters medley relay and a bronze medal in the 100 meters butterfly.
In 2002, Huegill went on to win another two gold medals in the 50 meters butterfly and 100 meters butterfly and a silver medal in the 4x100 meters medley relay at the FINA World Championships short course event in Moscow, Russia.
At the 2003 FINA World Championships long course event in Barcelona, Spain Huegill finished fourth in the 50 meters butterfly and failed to make the final of the 100 meters butterfly.
Huegill has since reflected that by 2004 he was struggling with motivation for swimming and depression. He still went on to secure his place on the Australian team for the Athens Olympic Games and raced in the 100 meters butterfly. He qualified for the final but finished in 8th place overall.
In 2004, after the Athens Olympics, Huegill took a four months break to refocus his priorities.
Meanwhile, he started to develop interest in things outside of swimming. At the age of 25, he amicably parted with longtime coach Ken Wood and moved to Sydney to live. While based in Sydney, Huegill became a regular part of the social scene and was often seen present at Sydney night spots.
Later, he tried to make a comeback under a new coach, Steve Alderman, at University of Sydney. At the trials for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Huegill performed poorly, failed to make the team and announced his retirement from the sport.
Comeback after first retirement (2008–2012)
In November 2008, weighing in at 138 kilograms, Huegill decided to come back and compete in international swimming competitions. He joined the New South Wales Institute of Sport and trained in Sydney under new coach Grant Stoelwinder.
The focus of Huegill’s comeback was the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. Huegill was triumphant in fighting his way back to the podium. He shed a total of 45 kilograms and won gold at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games in the 100 meters butterfly. He won the race in 51.69 seconds and broke the Commonwealth games record and his own ten-year-old record personal best time. Huegill also came away with a silver medal in the 50 meters butterfly.
In 2010, he was voted Australian Sport Performer of the Year.
In 2012, following recurring illnesses, Huegill failed to appear in the London Olympics. At the qualifying trials, in March 2012, he finished fifth in the 100m butterfly final.
Huegill announced his second retirement from swimming.
Outside of swimming
Huegill made a guest appearance in season one of Australia's Next Top Model.
In 2003, Huegill was crowned as Cleo's Bachelor of the Year after receiving the most votes from readers. Cleo editor, Paula Joye, described Huegill as "the nicest guy, totally humble about his abilities, funny and charming to be around, he's the total package." In the same year, Huegill travelled to Vietnam to record a television documentary for AusAID, the arm of the Australian government that invests in projects and provides investment assistance to developing countries.
In 2010, Huegill was a special guest presenter at the Australian Recording Industry Association 2010 ARIA Awards. Huegill was a regular guest presenter on ABC Radio's Grandstand Active Show covering sporting issues of the day, overnight scores and live crosses to sport.
A keen sailor, Huegill has placed twice in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world. In 2010, Huegill joined the celebrity crew on board Anthony Bell's 30 metre maxi yacht, Investec Loyal. The crew included seven-time world surfing champion Layne Beachley, Wallabies Phil Kearns and Phil Waugh and cricketer Mathew Hayden. They came together to raise money for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation to buy medical equipment for children's hospitals. Ivestec Loyal came in second across the line to Wild Oats.
In 2012, Huegill raced as crew aboard the 100-foot supermaxi Ragamuffin Loyal who took second place. At Constitution Dock skipper, Syd Fischer, said of Huegill, "He's bloody good. He worked hard. He didn't let up."
In July 2013, he was awarded an honorary masters degree in sports science with high class honors from Central Queensland University.
In October 2021, Geoff was announced as a part of the celebrity cast for 2022 SAS Australia, Season 3.
Geoff Huegill released a capsule collection of scientifically engineered compression and performance garments. The collection was sold through luxury apparel retailers such as Stylerunner and Mode Sportif.
Huegill set up O Performance, a performance coaching and consulting business focused on delivering coaching, development programs and events in Asia. It covers all levels including; water safety, learn to swim, junior development, adult programs, squads as well as competition preparation and executive performance coaching.
Geoff is an Athlete-Entrepreneur and co-director of many companies. He holds ambassadorships with Black Dog Institute, Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, MS – Qld, Sir David Martin, Foundation and Variety – The Children’s Charity
Geoff has relocated to Singapore, where he now lives with his partner Roxan Toll, a trained lawyer who works as a tech executive. The couple welcomed a son, who they named Rafe, in August 2021.
Geoff Huegill is listed on the wall of the Redcliffe Wall of Fame:
A collection of portrait and information honouring the achievements of individuals who have influenced and shaped Redcliffe. The collection is in the Jetty Arcade at 139-141 Redcliffe Parade.
For a complete list of people who appear on the wall click on the following blog post: