Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps has won 18 individual gold medals at the Olympic Games Reuters

American swimming legend Michael Phelps has revealed that he "wanted to die" during his long battle with alcohol abuse. Phelps, who is set to take part in this summer's Rio Olympic games, spoke about his difficulties with alcohol that led to two driving under the influence (DUI) arrests.

The 30-year-old, who is the most successful athlete in Olympic history, speaking during the Today show, opened up about his life and troubles.

"I think my mom was happy that I was alive because I think she saw the path I was going down. I think a lot of people close to me saw it, and I was going fast. Honestly, at one point I felt like I didn't want to see another day."

Phelps has had a chequered past with alcohol. His struggles with the bottle first became public in 2004 after he was arrested for DUI. Ten years later, in September 2014, he was arrested for his second DUI, but this time he did not go scot-free with the USA swimming association issuing a six-month suspension and prohibiting him from travelling to Russia to take part in the World Swimming Championships.

Thanks to family and friends, he enrolled himself in Alcoholics Anonymous, underwent 45 days of in-patient treatment and promised himself that he would cut out alcohol from his life.

"Before I even went to court, I said to myself that I'm not going to drink until after Rio — if I ever drink again. That was a decision I made for myself. I'm being honest with myself. Going into 2008 and 2012, I didn't do that. I didn't say I was going to take a year off from drinking and not have a drink."

Phelps has won 18 Olympic golds and 22 medals overall at the last three Olympics and had retired from swimming after the 2012 London Games, saying that he had no goals to accomplish. The swimmer changed his mind a year later and will go into Rio 2016 as one of the most feared competitors in his field.