Rehab to Rio: How Christ changed an Olympian’s life

An Olympic swimmer has shared his amazing story of how his life was turned around by coming to know Christ.

Daniel Smith competed for Australia in the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay at Rio, but his journey to the Olympics was no ordinary one.

He has only recently returned to competitive swimming following a five-year absence due to drug and alcohol addiction.

Destroyed my life

“I thought I would be OK, I’d just use a little bit of drugs here and everything would be alright, but really it literally destroyed my life.

“I was a very empty, lost and broken boy,” Smith told sports organisation Passion for Sport.

God loves me – it’s taken me a bit of time to really realise that.

Daniel Smith

He became homeless and spent time in a facility for alcohol and drug rehabilitation before returning to swimming in 2014.

Faith in Christ

Describing his lowest point, he said, “I didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

Smith reflected on his drug and alcohol addiction, describing it as an attempt to “fill a void.”

But it was only after coming to Christ that he felt the void was filled, “that’s what He’s done – He’s filled me from the inside out.”

Fresh hope

Despite the accolades that come with being an Olympian, Smith recognises he isn’t defined by his sporting achievements.

“Swimming isn’t who I am, it’s just what I do.

“I’m a vessel of the Holy Spirit, God loves me – it’s taken me a bit of time to really realise that.

“God doesn’t need gold medals and stuff, he cares more about my character and what’s on the inside,” he said.

New person

His faith in Christ has turned his life around and the Australian swimmer is now hoping to use his story to inspire others.

“I want to be able to go out there and actually give others hope that you can do this and look what I’ve done with my life.

“I’m a complete new person now and that’s what the Lord’s done in my life. I’m extremely grateful to him for what he’s done.”