How man almost drank himself to death
Just six years ago Luke Richards was a "hopeless alcoholic".
He was told he would be dead within a year if he continued drinking the way he was, but that was still not enough to stop him.
Despite being told such terrifying news, Mr Richards began drinking a bottle of Jim Beam a night - more than he ever had done before.
Mr Richards would start drinking the moment he woke up - but only enough to be able to go to work - and when he knocked off, he'd neck a hip flask of bourbon on the train before he could hit the bottle at home where no one could see him.
"My bedroom looked like a mass grave of Jim Beam bottles," he said.
"This had been my 'life' for a number of years and I was quickly running out of energy to continue."
Mr Richards said he was only alive today by chance after he survived a 2012 suicide attempt.
His family sent him off to rehab which is where he was given that harsh life sentence. His liver was dying and he had early signs of Korsakoff Syndrome.
"Unfortunately for me, that experience was not enough to get me sober - something that had nothing to do with the program and everything to do with me," he said.
"I spent the next eight months drinking more than I ever had before, pretty much a litre of Jim Beam a night, and sporadically trying in vain to stop.
"My body was starting to shut down, my hands shook so badly that I could not write or use utensils.
"My body was so dependent on alcohol that I could not go more than a few hours without severe withdrawals beginning to cripple me."
But after years of trying to get better, the 44-year-old from Sandringham in Victoria was finally able to have his last drink on February 8, 2013.
He recalled the first five days of sobriety were a life-threatening rollercoaster as he went through detox without any help, something he said was dangerous and did not recommend.
"One the hardest things to come to terms with in the early days is not being able to comprehend not ever drinking again," he said.
"I stumbled here so many times because I was in so much physical and mental pain that the thought of living like this forever became worse than drinking.
"I managed to move through this time, supported by the AA community and my family and before I knew it, my sober days were steadily increasing."
Mr Richards is now a father to two boys with his partner Dominique, who he met in his early days of sobriety.
In 2106, to support Dominique's ambition to take part in the famous Lorne Pier 2 Pub open water swim, Mr Richards took up swimming and the pair started training together.
He said open water and long distance swimming had given him a new lease on life and allowed him to constantly strive to change.
Mr Richards now leads the Swim4Recovery initiative to advocate for others battling addiction and raise money for recovery.
He is training to swim the English Channel in 2020 and encouraging others to join his Australia Swims initiative.
Australia Swims is a 10-day celebration that inspires Australians to enjoy the water and get swimming for its many health, wellbeing and social benefits.
There are an estimated 2.9 million Aussies who swim at least once a week and more than 7 million who swim throughout the year.
Mr Richards is calling on Australians to pledge their own swims in an attempt to swim a virtual lap of Australia between January 19 and 28.
Australians can lodge their pledge and track their distance on a new interactive app, iSwim, created by Swimming Australia, to be a part of the collective 35,855km lap around Australia.
The app will be updated in February to feature fitness programs created by the Australian Dolphins swim team that cater to all levels, from lap and open water swimmers to social swimmers.
"Swimming saved my life," Mr Richards said.
"It's honestly the best way to get active, socialise and be a part of the local community."