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Emma McKeon admits she’s looking forward to a ‘mental break’ at the International Swimming League in Italy.

by ZwemZa on September 14th, 2021

Emma McKeon and Kyle Chalmers will race for London Roar in the International Swimming League in Italy. Photo: Adam Head

She’s Australia’s greatest Olympic swimmer, but Emma McKeon admits she’s looking forward to a ‘mental break’ at the International Swimming League in Italy.

Kyle Chalmers is set to face his Olympic conqueror this weekend after cutting short his post-Olympic break to lead London Roar in the International Swimming League (ISL).

Chalmers and Tokyo Games star Emma McKeon left Australia last week for an extended overseas sojourn, with Chalmers expecting to be away for the next 20 weeks.

Chalmers was back in Adelaide for just 10 days with family and friends before leaving for the ISL.

But the chance to lead the Roar franchise and earn enough money to support his training program through to the Paris Olympics is too good an opportunity to pass up.

“We’re lucky that ISL’s happening at the moment, I’m really looking forward to getting over to the ISL and competing with my team the London Roar,” Chalmers said.

“I’m actually the captain of the team, so I’m really looking forward to getting over there and doing well.”

Chalmers will take on US sprint star and Cali Condors captain Caeleb Dressel when he heads back into action in Naples, Italy, this weekend.

After returning to Australia and undergoing two weeks of quarantine with the swim team in the Northern Territory before reuniting with family and friends in South Australia, training had not been a priority.

He was looking forward to the clash against Dressel, who beat him to gold in the 100m freestyle by just 0.06sec but given he had not trained for a month after the Games, had few expectations.

“I’ll probably be pretty dusty,” Chalmers said.

“He (Dressel) has stayed in pretty good nick it seems and has raced already over at the ISL.

“I’ll be saving my best swims for the finals towards the end of the season but it’ll be good to have a hitout against him – and catch up with him, he’s a great mate of mine.

“It’ll definitely be a rude shock standing up on the blocks, he’ll be looking pretty lean and mean and I’ll probably have the dad bod running but I’m looking forward to it.”

Chalmers does not expect to be back in Australia until next February, meaning he faces a packed schedule in 2022, with national championships in April, world championships in Japan in May and the Commonwealth Games in England in July-August.

But he believes the sacrifice is worthwhile.

“Every opportunity I have to race is going to benefit me,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to getting over there and hopefully winning some prize money.

“The more money I can make over this little period, the better I’m going to be in Paris (at the 2024 Olympics) because it will allow me to take my swimming to the next level and be as professional as I can.”

“I’m part of the London Roar team, so I’ll go over and do that which I think will be a bit of fun,” McKeon said.

“It’s definitely a different way to race so I feel like that will be a nice mental break.

“Even though I’m still swimming, it’ll be a lot of fun with that team and just a different format, different way of racing.”

Emma McKeon became the most successful Australian Olympian in history when she won seven medals, including four gold, in Tokyo. Picture: Getty Images

McKeon said the incredible precautions athletes had taken to avoid any chance of catching Covid meant there was little social interaction at the Games and she was looking forward to catching up with friends.

McKeon, who became Australia’s most successful Olympian after winning seven medals in Tokyo, said the ISL would provide a break from the regular routine of training.

“It was different because I didn’t really stop and chat to many people at all, we were just so careful about what we were doing,” she said.

“We didn’t know what the risk was going to be so it was best off just not to stop and chat to anyone for too long.”

Emma Greenwood | The Courier Mail

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