Geoff Huegill has revealed his “shame” over the breakdown of his marriage after he and his ex-wife were charged with possessing cocaine at the Randwick races in 2014.
In the season premiere of “SAS Australia” — a reality television show in which celebrities complete the training for the Australian Special Air Service Regiment — on Monday night, the former Olympic swimmer revealed the terrible impact the ordeal had on his family.
“In 2014 I was arrested with my ex-wife at the races for cocaine possession,” Huegill recalled during an interrogation with soldiers on the TV show.
“We got pulled aside by the police and I was searched. Basically in the blink of an eye our life got turned upside down.
“I was carrying a lot of shame and a lot of guilt that I put my family through that process. “And it led me to get to a point where I had to make the call to leave my family.”
Huegill and his ex-wife, Sara Hills split in 2018. They share two daughters, Mila and Gigi.
The 42-year-old broke down as he revealed his sadness at not being able to see his daughters.
“I definitely have regret,” Huegill said, wiping away tears. “It hurts me to be in a position where I don’t get to live with my girls on a day-to-day basis because of our marriage separation. The last time I got to hold them was 18 months ago.
“That’s been a big eye opener because … life gets taken away from you in a blink of an eye.
“When I retired from sport for the second time, the only thing I ever cared for was family. The only thing I ever lived for after swimming was just to be a dad. It’s something that I loved and wanted to be.”
Huegill admitted he has had periods of depression in the years since his divorce, but that he was determined to make a fresh start.
“I’ve had times where I sat there and thought there would be an easier way out,” he said. “But I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been able to pull myself out of some pretty dark times.
“If there’s ever a message I want to share with my kids, it’s to get them to understand and recognise that life isn’t going to be easy. The most important thing is how we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off.”
The dual Olympian also spoke about how his weight ballooned by over 110 pounds after he retired from swimming after the Athens Olympics.
“After 2004 I retired and put on 50 kilograms,” Huegill said, adding his diet consisted of “kebabs for breakfast, pizza, alcohol”.
The butterflyer mounted a comeback and miraculously won medals at the 2010 Dehli Commonwealth Games and at the world championships the following year.
“I lost 45 kilos, I got back behind the blocks again,” Huegill said. “I won a couple of medals at the Commonwealth Games.”
In a casual chat with the other SAS contestants, Huegill also revealed he was approached to be The Bachelor after his divorce, but turned down the offer.
“After I got divorced I got asked to go on “The Bachelor” — to be The Bachelor,” Huegill said. “And I thought, that is just not the right example to set to my daughters.”
Huegill has started a new chapter of his life in Singapore, where he lives with his partner Roxan Toll and their son Rafe, who was born last year.
“I never had to leave Australia, I wanted to leave,” Huegill told the Sunday Telegraph.
“I wanted to do something different. I just wanted to get on with it. It is a good place and there are a lot of good opportunities for work and a good opportunity for me to keep my head down.”