Swimming Superstar Battles With Depression

AP Photo

Ian Thorpe began his long and lonely return to the pool a year ago this month. He understands the solitary nature of elite sport better than most professional athletes, and describes its impact with layered elegance, but even Thorpe was jolted by the isolation he felt as he prepared to swim competitively again in Singapore last November. After four years in retirement, his five Olympic gold medals and famous old Thorpedo racing persona meant nothing as he climbed on the blocks.


"I've never felt more alone than in that moment," Thorpe says simply. "The water is normally my space – because I get quite territorial. But I realised that, despite all my training, I was about to put myself back out there as a competitor. I was surrounded by people but I still had this...

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