Canberra: Australia’s champion swimmer Geoff Huegill has revealed that he abused recreational drugs and had suicidal thoughts when he retired from swimming after the 2004 Athens Olympics.

It is well known that the swimming legend battled with binge drinking and junk food, which saw him put on 45 kg and suffer from depression, but the admission of drug use is likely to shock many.

Huegill, 32, has detailed his brush with alcohol, drugs and debt collectors in his new book named Be Your Best.

"My life from about 2005 to 2007, I experimented with many different things. I guess that is a story in my past," he said.

Huegill said he made the admission because "sooner or later, the truth catches up with you" and he wanted others to learn from his mistakes.

"I remained trapped because I was so ineffective in my life outside the pool.

"The usual cycles kicked in again, plenty of alcohol and party drugs. I was arriving home from clubbing at 4 a.m., the hour I used to be getting up and training. I now had debt collectors to deal with," Huegill said.

After 16 years of intense swimming, he said he had no idea of the real world.

"The swimming world, it is a pretty sheltered world," he said. "I had to learn pretty fast what the real world was like."

He credits his wife Sara, whom he met in 2007 for turning his life around. He also thanks life coach Keith Saggers for his help.

Huegill returned to swimming in 2008 and won two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India. Huegill is also an ambassador for the Black Dog Institutes's Exercise Your Mood Campaign, which promotes the benefits of exercise in tackling depression.

Huehill is a multiple Olympic, World, Pan Pacific and Commonwealth Games medallist, and a previous world record holder in the 50 m butterfly.

(Agencies)