Today's Birthday 4/3

Geoff Huegill is an Australian former butterfly swimmer

Today's Birthday, March 4: Former Australian swimmer Geoff Huegill (1979 - )

Twenty years ago Geoff Huegill had the world at his feet in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics and it's been sink or swim ever since.

The young Queenslander had just broken the 50m butterfly world record at the Australian selection trials at Sydney Olympic Park in May 2000.

He didn't disappoint at the main event four months later either, grabbing Olympic bronze in the 100m butterfly and silver in the 4x100m medley relay to establish himself as a star of the future.

Geoffrey Andrew Huegill was born to a Thai mother and an Australian father in Gove in the Northern Territory in 1979, but grew up in Brisbane where he was unearthed by late coaching great Ken Wood.

By the time he was 25, he was a six-time world champion, eight-time world record holder and a five-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

But his retirement from swimming after the 2004 Athens Olympics sent Huegill on a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol, mounting debt and depression.

His weight ballooned to 132kg, but he shed 45kg to make a remarkable comeback to the pool, winning two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and silver and bronze medals at the 2011 world championships.

In 2012 at age 33, Huegill officially hung up his competitive Speedos after conceding that qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics was not realistic.

But he slipped back into old habits in retirement.

Huegill and wife Sara Hills were charged with possession of cocaine in April 2016 after emerging from a disabled toilet at Sydney's Royal Randwick racecourse.

They pleaded guilty and escaped with six-month good behaviour bonds.

The incident severely tarnished Huegill's reputation, costing the swimming great several lucrative sponsorship deals.

Hills was then charged with shoplifting after allegedly stealing an expensive pair of leather pants from a Byron Bay store on Mother's Day in 2018 before the case was dismissed on mental health grounds.

Huegill and Hills, who have two children together, announced an "amicable" separation at the end of 2018 after seven years of marriage.