MACKAY swimming coach Pat Wright recognised the talent of butterfly star Geoff Huegill at an early age.
Wright was his first coach and helped develop his outstanding talent during his formative years as a promising swimmer growing up in Mackay.
It has been well documented how “Skippy” has made a triumphant return to the pool this year.
Huegill took his comeback a step further on Monday night when he won bronze in the 50m butterfly final at the world championships in Shanghai, China.
And fittingly there to congratulate him after the medal ceremony was the coach who helped mould his swimming career.
“I spoke to Geoff after the race and he sounded great,” said Wright when she spoke to the Daily Mercury from China yesterday.
Wright has maintained regular contact with her star pupil throughout his illustrious career.
“We watched him and it was fantastic,” she said.
“He is a very special boy ... he never forgets where he came from.
“It was a wonderful feeling for him to get bronze.”
Wright coached Huegill for three or four years until he moved to Brisbane as a teenager where he was able to utilise state-of-the-art training facilities.
He was 13 when he was taken under the wing of coach Ken Wood.
“We both had a good working relationship,” Wright said of the decision. We thought it was the best thing for him at that stage.
“He was always a determined man and has turned his life around,” she said.
“He always showed a lot of talent in his early years.”
Wright is also in charge of another Mackay swimming
prodigy, 18-year-old breaststroker Rebecca Kemp.
“She swims on Wednesday (today),” Wright said.
“She feels great and has prepared well.”
Wright described the atmosphere in China as “incredible”.
“It’s something quite special,” she said.
“It’s absolutely brilliant ... you cannot imagine the facilities and technology.”
Huegill claimed bronze behind fellow Australian Matt Targett and race winner, Brazilian Cesar Cielo.
It was his first world championship medal since winning the 50m fly in 2001.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.