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I should have ended swim comeback: Hackett

  • I should have ended swim comeback: Hackett

    Grant Hackett's admitted his bizarre meltdown on a flight has forever tarnished his swimming career.

A bizarre meltdown on a flight has, by Grant Hackett's own admission, forever tarnished his glittering swimming career.

And the troubled former Olympic champion said it was his much-heralded comeback 12 months ago that triggered the latest gaffe he admitted his reputation may never recover from.

Hackett on Friday said he would seek professional help to quit alcohol after a drunken April 17 incident on a flight in which he was accused of tweaking a fellow passenger's nipple after they reclined their seat.

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Hackett said he had been binge drinking before the flight home from the Olympic swimming trials in Adelaide after missing out on the Rio team, ending his comeback.

He denied drugs were involved.

"It has definitely got a tarnish to it unfortunately and I have to live with that," father-of-two Hackett said of his reputation.

"There is a deep sense of shame and regret for those it impacts and my kids are at the front of that line."

Hackett said his biggest regret was not listening to warning signs 12 months ago when he successfully launched a comeback after six years out of the pool.

The triple Olympic gold medallist was the feel good story of Australian swimming when he remarkably made the 2015 world titles team at 35 after just months back in the water.

But Hackett was not happy back in the public eye and admitted he should have ended his comeback after making the world titles team.

"I came back for the love of it and the love was taken away when the attention came on board," he said.

"A lot of the focus on my personal life and history came up.

"It created pressure and unhealed scars, stuff I was trying to move forward from.

"Emotionally it put me back in the eye of the storm.

"In hindsight that was where the wheels started falling off.

"I really should have pulled myself out of the team."

Hackett - now 36 - soldiered on in a bid to become the oldest Australian to make an Olympic swimming team at this month's Rio trials.

Instead he made headlines for all the wrong reasons - again.

Hackett had previously found himself under scrutiny after he trashed the Melbourne apartment he shared with his former wife Candice Alley in 2011 and was seen semi-naked searching for his lost son in a hotel foyer in early 2014.

But arguably the most recent incident was the most bizarre.

After reclining his seat, the passenger claimed Hackett reached through the gap between seats, grabbed his chest and tweaked his nipple in what he described as a "sexual assault".

Asked if he had touched the passenger's chest, Hackett said: "No.

"Everyone sitting around me has stated the same thing.

"If I did touch him inappropriately I am very sorry.

"I have spoken to the gentleman and apologised profusely...everything is fine now."

Hackett hoped to still be considered a mentor for the Australian swimming team.

He did not rule out being part of Channel Seven's coverage of the Rio Olympics.

"But I will totally understand if they don't want me," he said.

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