Grant Hackett's split with glamorous girlfriend 'triggered' breakdown

The public meltdown of disgraced Olympian Grant Hackett, which led to his arrest this week, may have been triggered by a messy breakup with a girlfriend, friends speculate.

The swimming star went missing on Thursday and was later found "alive and sober" to the relief of his very concerned family.

"He's very depressed and not in good condition, obviously very mentally disturbed," his father Nev said once Hackett went missing on Thursday, a day after being arrested when creating a disturbance at the family's Gold Coast home.

His disappearance followed Hackett posting to Instagram a photo of him with his face battered and accusations that his brother had previously beaten him up.

His friends have told how a woman may be at the centre of Hackett's troubles.

Grant Hackett's public breakdown may have been triggered by a messy breakup with Maggie Keating (pictured on an Italy trip in August last year), friends say. Picture: Instagram

Hackett was first reported arm-in-arm with Gold Coast beauty Maggie Keating last July, and he made the relationship official a month later by sharing a photo of the couple on his Instagram account while holidaying in Italy.

Pictures of the pair have since been removed from each other's social media accounts, sparking speculation the pair have parted ways.

Friends have told The Daily Telegraph the troubled swimmer's rocky relationships, since splitting with ex-wife Candice Alley ended in 2013, and his lack of direction after retirement were to blame for his emotional downfall.

"He falls in and out of love easily. He needs a girlfriend and finds it difficult to be on his own," a friend told the newspaper.

Out of the pool, Hackett has been in the spotlight repeatedly since ending his decorated swimming career. Picture: AAP

The troubled swimmer is since in hiding after his family and friends spent hours desperately searching for him until he sent a text advising he was okay.

However, Neville was unsure of the exact whereabouts of his son, who was arrested for being aggressive and abusive at the family's Mermaid Waters home on Wednesday.

"He's actually hiding because he's very, very embarrassed about all this," Neville said outside the home on Thursday afternoon.

"He's spoken to police."

'He’s a danger to community': Grant Hackett's family fear for troubled Olympian}

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The search for the 36-year-old was sparked after he was last seen at 7.30am at a Gold Coast hotel on Thursday before he missed an appointment with his lawyer.

Hackett's Instagram post on Thursday morning followed comments by brother Craig expressing the family was at a loss how to help the Olympic champion.

"My brother comments to the media ... but does anyone know he beat the s*** out of me?" he wrote on Instagram.

"Everyone knows he is an angry man."

It was reported the assault was a result of an "intervention" when Hackett's mother Margaret and brother went to his home after a drunken altercation at the New Year's Eve wedding of swimming legend Michael Phelps in Arizona, US.

Grant Hackett posted the image on Instagram on Thursday showing his battered face, he said was caused by his brother. Picture: Instagram/grant__hackett
'He is dangerous': Brother Craig told media.

"He was wasted. She was crying. He was angry. Security guards restrained him," a friend told the Gold Coast Bulletin, describing a spat between the embattled champion and an unknown woman.

Fellow Olympian Daniel Kowalski said there had been warning signs about Hackett's mental health issues for some time.

Hackett made headlines last April when police were called after he yelled abuse and allegedly "tweaked" the nipple of a make passenger on a Virgin Airways flight and was restrained by crew members in Melbourne.

The incident prompted him to vow to quit drinking.

The Australian Olympic Committee is concerned for Hackett's wellbeing and said his achievements "as one of the greatest swimmers of all time" should not be forgotten.

Grant's father Nev issued an appeal for his missing son hours before he was reported 'alive and well' on the Gold Coast. Picture: 7 News
An admittedly drunken Hackett was pictured in a wheel chair after being taken into custody at Melbourne airport last April. Source: 7 News

"This is not the Grant we know and respect," it said in a statement on Thursday.

"We hope he can overcome his current challenges and we have offered him any support he needs."

Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson added: "Given these recent circumstances, we once again reached out to Grant and his family to continue to offer support and assistance in any way we can."

Hackett retired after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, having won the 1500m freestyle at both the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games. He also claimed four world titles in the 30-length event.

But after retirement he quickly ran into problems with a messy divorce and allegations he smashed up his Melbourne home in 2011. In 2014, he checked into a US rehabilitation clinic to treat an addiction to sleeping pills.

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling Lifeline 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467, or Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

Newsbreak – February 17