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Chalmers targets GC2018 gold

by ZwemZa on January 22nd, 2018
Kyle Chalmers, pictured at the Australian Swimming Championships earlier this year, returned from the World Championships with a silver medal. (Phil Hillyard)

Kyle Chalmers, pictured at the Australian Swimming Championships earlier this year, returned from the World Championships with a silver medal. (Phil Hillyard)

Less than 12 months after winning an extraordinary Rio 2016 gold, Kyle Chalmers had heart surgery. But the Australian is targeting more medals at Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games – and can’t wait to swim in front of a home crowd.

It’s been a crazy couple of years for Kyle Chalmers.

The Australian swimmer qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games under the radar, with his teammate Cameron McEvoy more fancied by most pundits to win the 100m freestyle title.

But Chalmers left Brazil with the gold medal in his pocket – along with two relay bronzes and a junior world record.

He admits to spending “eight months living on a high” after his extraordinary swim propelled him to stardom back home. But reality eventually bit, with Chalmers having to undergo heart surgery to fix a lifelong struggle with palpitations.

As a result, he missed the 2017 Swimming World Championships in Budapest, and time out of the pool has set back the progress the 19-year-old would like to have made.

Chalmers, however, is highly positive about his hopes of returning to the top of the sport – and is targeting Gold Coast 2018 as the place to do it.

“The Gold Coast is going to be huge for me,” he said. “It’s a really big one because it’s on home soil. I’ve never been to a Commonwealth Games, so I’m very excited. First I have to qualify for the Australia team, but if I make it, it’ll be great.

“The Gold Coast is one of the greatest places in Australia to live. It’s awesome and I always have a lot of fun there. Hopefully I’ll have all my friends and family along to watch, and the home crowd will definitely lift the Aussie athletes. It boosts the adrenaline a little bit more. I really want to qualify and have a great campaign.”

The Commonwealth Games should feature a renewal of Chalmers’ rivalry with McEvoy – although he stressed that it’s a friendly one. “Cam is a great guy and we are very good mates,” he said. “We shared an apartment in Rio and I requested to train in his squad too.

“We did everything together leading up to the Olympics, right up to the last day – we were in each other’s faces! And I went up to the Gold Coast to train with him. We keep in touch regularly.” Kyle Chalmers celebrates winning gold in the Men's 100m Freestyle Final at the Rio Olympics.

Kyle Chalmers celebrates winning gold in the Men’s 100m Freestyle Final at the Rio Olympics.

Chalmers hails McEvoy’s response to the 100m – his teammate had finished out of the medal places but climbed out the pool to raise his friend’s arm in victory – as “simply great sportsmanship”. It’s a sign of Australian unity, and a team in fine shape going into the Games.

The Rio victory was a shock, he admitted.

“I had no inkling of winning gold.

“Before the Games, I committed to doing as well as possible, and I did my Year 12 schooling online so I could train fully. I didn’t miss a session, or massage or physio. I gave myself the best chance to succeed.

“My form went well, and being the underdog took the pressure off. In the last heat, I did the fastest back end I’d ever done in the 100m freestyle, and that gave me great confidence going into the semi and final. But I was still amazed to see the result at the end of the race.”

Chalmers’ life changed dramatically in the aftermath, however. “Reality eventually sank back in that I’d have to get back to training and hopefully carry on winning medals,” he said. “But then I had to have the surgery in June.

“They cut through your groin and go up through to the main arteries in the heart. Imagine an electric circuit – it’s about making that circuit successful, and stopping the palpitations I was having.

“It’s a bit scary, but I’ve had it all my life. It does make you realise how quickly sport can be taken away from you, though.”

It seems that the surgery has been successful: Chalmers’ first major meet since the operation was at the Australian Short Course Championships in October, where he won the 100m freestyle with panache.

“To do that was awesome for me because I haven’t done a lot of racing, or even race-paced stuff in training,” he said. “My times aren’t quite where I want them to be, but that’s to be expected after some time out of the pool. I’m hopeful of building back up for a really good performance at 2018.” The Gold Coast awaits.

AMP Media

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