Updated: Friday, 21 March 2014 08:59 | By Agence France-Presse

Swimming heroes Thorpe, Hackett wanted as team mentors

Swimming Australia says it would welcome struggling heroes Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett as mentors of the national swim team after they overcome their personal challenges.


Swimming heroes Thorpe, Hackett wanted as team mentors

Swimming Australia says it would welcome struggling heroes Ian Thorpe, shown here, and Grant Hackett as mentors of the national swim team after they overcome their personal challenges - by Gabriel Bouys

Dual Olympic gold medallists Susie O'Neill and Michael Klim were Thursday announced as mentors to the national team's leadership group, and SA wants to include Thorpe and Hackett in its programme.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Thorpe is battling depression, while Olympic and world champion distance swimmer Hackett has undergone treatment in the US for an alleged addiction to sleeping pills.

SA high performance director Michael Scott said the country's elite swimmers could learn important lessons about life after swimming from Thorpe and Hackett.

"We will embrace a number of our past champions in a variety of activities - certainly Grant and Ian fit that bill," Scott said late Thursday.

"They have their personal challenges and we expect that they need some space right now.

"But when the time is right for them then we would certainly like to sit down and talk to them."

Klim said he had not spoken to Hackett recently, but had received an encouraging response from Thorpe.

"But I think they (both) realise everyone is in their corner wanting them to overcome these challenges," Klim said.

The group was formed to rebuild morale after a 2012 London Olympic Games campaign marred by the men's 4x100m freestyle relay team's Stilnox pill controversy and their worst Olympic medal haul in 20 years.

Hackett and Thorpe's plight has ensured O'Neill and Klim are determined to build leaders in and out of the pool.

Considered post-pool success stories, triple Olympians O'Neill and Klim said they were keen to push the benefits of life balance.

Thorpe has been in rehabilitation for depression after a mixture of painkillers and anti-depressants left him  disoriented on a Sydney street last February, highlighting the pressures facing elite athletes after retirement.

Hackett is having treatment for addiction to prescription drugs, his manager and father said, days after he was pictured half-naked in a Melbourne hotel lobby looking for his young son last February.

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