His athletic achievements made him one of Australia's most popular athletes, and he was recognised as the Young Australian of the Year in 2000.Aside from 13 individual long-course world records, Thorpe anchored the Australian relay teams, numbering the victories in the 4 × 100 m and the 4 × 200 m freestyle relays in Sydney, among his five relay world records.
In October 1997, a few days before his fifteenth birthday, Thorpe competed in qualifying trials in Brisbane for the 1998 World Aquatics Championships in Perth.
After the Athens Olympics, Thorpe took a year away from swimming, scheduling a return for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Subsequent training camps were interrupted, and he announced his retirement in November 2006, citing waning motivation.
From early 2011, there was speculation about Thorpe's return to swimming, fuelled by people claiming to have seen him training.
The speculations were substantiated when Thorpe spoke at a February 2011 press conference of his return to swimming after four years away, with the aim of competing in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
A talented batsman, he once topped the season's batting averages ahead of former Australian captain Bob Simpson.