Leigh Nugent stepped down as head coach of the Australian swim team Wednesday after leading the nation to its worst Olympic showing in decades.
The failure was blamed on “toxic incidents” and a “lack of collective leadership” in a review commissioned by Swimming Australia, which discovered that members of the 4x100m relay had taken banned sleeping pills, made prank phone calls, and engaged in other “childish behavior.”
Swimming Australia president Barclay Nettlefold made a point to say that Nugent wasn’t fired and will stay with the team in a youth development and mentor role after he takes an extended break.
“Leigh actually approached us to discuss his future and where he would best fit into the new structure of the high performance unit,” Nettlefold said. “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.”
Nettlefold also plans to hire an interim coach, a new chief executive officer, and a high performance director very soon, as this summer’s world championship in Barcelona are quickly approaching.
“Leigh accepts responsibility for the team’s performance – he’s never shied away from that,” Nettlefold added in an interview with the Associated Press Wednesday. “I think he felt fairly remorseful.”