Golden Friendship: Grant Hackett Reveals How Michael Phelps’ Heart Of Gold Saved His Life

THANKS MATE: Grant Hackett thanks Michael Phelps for saving his life. Photo Courtesy Swimming Australia

Australian Olympic great Grant Hackett has publicly acknowledged the world’s greatest Olympian and his close friend Michael Phelps for virtually “saving his life” saying he was “like a brother to me.”

Appearing on Australian breakfast television’s Sunrise, on Channel 7, Hackett has revealed how Phelps invited him to stay at his Arizona home after he attended a 30-day detox program in Malibu.

“He’d be convincing me to come over and stay with him for quite some time,” Hackett explained

Grant Hackett of Australia shows his gold medal after winning in the men's swimming 1500 metre freestyle final held at the National Aquatics Center at the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2004. (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

Grant Hackett in the midst of a golden career, an Olympic crown retained at Athens 2004 – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

“Finally I did and basically lived there for most of that year.”

“Michael and I have always had a special bond, we’ve known each other for 20 years.”

“I’ve been there through all of his ups and downs as he has with mine.”

“Anytime I go through something, he’s the first person to text me.”

“We were very close at a swimming level and become closer to friendship and more of an emotional level. He’s like a brother to me.”

Hackett is one of Australia’s greatest Olympians – a three-time gold medallist, who dominated the pool in the gruelling 1500 metre freestyle – holding the world record for an extraordinary 10 years between 2001 and 2011.

It is vast approaching the 20 year anniversary for Hackett’s ground-breaking Olympic gold medal swim – when he became the sixth Australian to win the coveted 1500m title, joining Andrew “Boy” Charlton (1924), Murray Rose (1956), John Konrads (1960), Bob Windle (1964) and Kieren Perkins (1992, 1996).

The Sydney 2000 Games also saws the debut of Phelps – who at just 15 finished fifth in the 200m butterfly – but who would go on to forge the greatest career of any swimmer in history – he too experiencing the downs in life as well as the super highs.


HEART OF GOLD: Michael Phelps was a helping hand for Grant Hackett. Photo Courtesy: International Business Times

A rollercoaster that both Hackett and Phelps have both come through together as they have plotted the next stages of their lives – away from the rigors of Olympic swimming careers.

The years that followed Hackett’s 2008 retirement saw a run of major public meltdowns and breakdowns before he retreated from the spotlight entirely – drawing on his family, friendships and disciplines learnt at the “Denis Cotterell

But now at 40, his life is back on track, with thanks to his new partner Sharlene Fletcher and “special bond” with fellow Olympic legend Phelps.

Three years on, Hackett has well and truly turned his life around, having climbed the corporate ladder to become CEO of Finance group, Generation Life.

He also become a father for the third time in January when fiancée Sharlene Fletcher gave birth to baby son, Edward.

“I’ve spent many years rebuilding, many years developing those relationships with the people that really matter and formulating a life that I can be proud of,” he told Sunrise.

The former Olympian now hopes he can inspire other people struggling with mental health issues to overcome their demons.

“There are a lot of people going through tough times who are struggling and they don’t have to sit there and accept that, you can move forward.”

“I’ve been evidence of that over the past few years.”

“I’ve kept my head down, stayed focused and got that sense of purpose back again.”


  1. Jason Barnard

    Swimming World – Let’s proofread that headline again, shall we?