Australian five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has revealed that he battled depression and thoughts of suicide during his record-breaking career.
In a revealing interview on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday evening, the 30-year-old opened up about his troubles away from the pool that led him to consider taking his own life.
Amongst his revelations Thorpe said he had been treated for depression since he was a teenager and that it had led him to drink during the night in the lead-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.
He also recounted that he had been too "embarrassed" to tell even his family about the disease until this year.
While Thorpe believes he has now learned to control the problem enough to speak about it publicly - he has also released an autobiography entitled 'This Is Me' - he admitted there were "still times that are really tough for me".
"I realised that I had depression early. I was having treatment for depression when I was a teenager," he said.
"Depression comes in bouts. You can feel okay most days and then just get hit with it. I experienced that through what was mostly a very successful swimming career.
"I have struggled with it before but I feel like I am on the other side of it. There are still times that are really tough for me, but I feel as though I know enough about it."
Asked whether he had ever contemplated suicide during a glittering career that also saw him claim 11 world titles, he added: "Yeah, I wouldn't talk about it otherwise. It's not something that is a throw-away line."
"Depression comes in bouts. You can feel okay most days and then just get hit with it" - Ian Thorpe
"When you go through what the process of what it would be like and it becomes and obsession in your mind where all rational thought is devoid in that situation you realise that this has gone beyond just a thought.
"When you are trying to get it out of your mind rationally and you can't. To consider it as being a rational solution to the way you are feeling you realise this is a problem, that this isn't just a fleeting thought or feeling.
"This is a very clear guideline that you do need more help and that you're not in control of your life and that the irrational thought has taken over."
Thorpe made an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the London Olympics after coming out of a four-year retirement in late 2010.
Despite that failure he revealed he still harboured ambitions to compete at Rio in four years and that he would look to add to his Commonwealth titles in Glasgow in two years.
"I'm going to work in two-year cycles. I'm looking to swim until the Commonwealth Games and then make a call on whether to swim through until the Olympics after that," he said.
"Starting out when I came back I knew the odds were stacked against me (to qualify for the Olympics).
"I thought it was 50-50. Realistically I thought it would take three years to get back."