I lost my identity to swimming: Hocking

Sarah Wiedersehn

Triple Olympian Belinda Hocking says she lost her identity to swimming and ended up "hating" the sport before turning to a psychologist for help.

The 26-year-old former world No.1 backstroker and Commonwealth Games champion announced her retirement on Wednesday.

Many athletes have struggled post-retirement, especially swimmers, but determined to make the difficult transition, Ms Hocking has enlisted help.

"I am using my psychologist to change my way of thinking into retirement," she told a small gathering at NSW Parliament House.

Ms Hocking enjoyed a stellar career but the pressures of being an elite athlete left her at times anxious and despondent.

By the end of 2014 - the same year she won two Commonwealth Games gold medals and one bronze as well as achieving the world No.1 ranking for the 200m backstroke - she "hated everything" to do with swimming.

"I hated the fact I had won this medal and nothing had changed."

"I thought my life would be different" once the sponsors came.

She eventually felt as though her life and identity had been lost to the sport.

"I felt like I became a product, I felt like I had become a product people wanted because of the medals I had won," she admitted.

"I was invited to events but the medal could have been on anyone's neck and they would have been invited to those events. It wasn't me that they wanted it was the medal."

"I felt my identity was really lost to the sport."

Now studying to become a teacher, Ms Hocking still admits for an athlete it is very hard to look to the future with any certainty.

"So I think when you see a lot of sports people going through depression and then making comebacks its because they've gone from being an athlete to just nothing."

Just last week swimming great Grant Hackett was arrested following a disturbance at his father's Gold Coast home.

Hackett - a triple Olympic champion - later said in a statement he was determined to beat the "mental health issues" that have plagued him since he retired from swimming.

Ms Hocking on Wednesday described Hackett as a "lovely person" and wished him well.

"I personally don't know what is going on with him but I just hope he gets the help he needs and wants," Ms Hocking told AAP.

Ms Hocking feels passionately about seeking psychological help which is why she joined Mia Freedman to help launch the Australian Psychological Society's 'Believe In Change' media campaign.

She also said sporting officials need to implement transitioning programs for athletes at an earlier age.

"When they're in the junior development make sure they are dong a uni course, make sure they're dong a coffee course, make sure they are doing something so that when they stop and retire they've got something to go into."