Geoff Huegill celebrated an emotional comeback when he won the men’s 50m butterfly at the Australian Swimming Championships in Sydney Thursday to qualify for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Huegill, who won gold at the same event in Manchester in 2002, blew out to a massive 138kg after retiring from the sport at the end of the Athens Olympics in 2004.
But the 31-year-old has shed 45kg over the past 18 months as he waged a public battle against his weight in an attempt to qualify for the New Delhi Games.
He looked in great shape as he led from the start to record a time of 23.46s to clearly beat training partner Andrew Lauterstein (23.82) and Mitchell Patterson (23.89).
“To come back from the position I was in, it’s something I definitely don’t take for granted,” Huegill said. “It’s been well and truly worth all the pain.
“The emotions I feel today are well and truly on par with the way I felt 10 years ago when I stood behind the blocks at the Sydney Olympics.”
Brisbane teenager Emily Seebohm became the first Australian woman in 40 years to win the 100m backstroke-freestyle double.
The 17-year-old won the 100m freestyle in a time of 54.70 before coming out soon after to win the backstroke in 59.21.
Men’s 100m breaststroke world record holder Brenton Rickard held off Christian Springer to win his sixth Australian title over the distance in 1:00.19. Rickard’s 58.58 world record was set using the now banned fast suits.
South Australian Hayden Stoekel added the 200m backstroke title to the 50m title he won on Wednesday when he swam 1:58.04, beating Ashley Delaney (1:58.56) and Braiden Camm (2:00.51)