The 2017 Australian Short Course Championships kick-off in Adelaide this weekend, with one of the nation’s biggest stars set to take the stage. 2016 Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers will be racing in his home state of South Australia and although the championships are not a selection meet, the competition will enable the 19-year-old to get his Tokyo 2020 journey underway.
The 100m freestyle virtuoso pulled out of this year’s World Championships in order to address his Supraventricular Tachycardia heart issue. Chalmers underwent a successful procedure in early June and quietly returned to competition via an exhibition 100m butterfly within a local SA Division I meet on July 1st.
Despite not being able to compete in Budapest, Chalmers ventured to Hungary to assess the competition and cheer on his fellow Australians. Not being the water only fueled the athlete to want to get back to competing on an elite international level even more.
“It was tough watching,’’ he said. “It definitely inspired me to get back in the pool and train as hard as I can leading in to Comm Games because you see Caeleb Dressel go 47.1 (seconds) and I beat him the year before so it puts the fire back in the belly that I want to be the top swimmer in the world,” Chalmers told The Advertiser.
“It’s going to be a bit of a journey to get there but that’s my goal and I’ll work as hard as I can.”
Helping along his path to potentially defending his gold in Tokyo is Queensland-based sports psychologist Elise Bateman.
“She has always been the Australian junior team psych so we formed that relationship there and I really enjoy her and that’s the main thing, having someone you feel comfortable talking to,” Chalmers said.
“It has been a massive change to life since the Olympic Games so she has helped me stay on track with that and set goals leading forward with what I can do.
“If you’re having a bad day or training is not going the best, it’s good to have someone to talk to. We train such a ridiculous amount of times a week so you’re not going to have a good session every day.
“So it’s good you can have someone to talk to who is not your coach and you can get everything off your chest and start fresh again which I find really helpful.” (The Advertiser)
Chalmers raced at the World Cup in Eindhoven, as well as the 2017 Energy for Swim! charity meet in Rome last August, both of which he called a ‘bit of a shock to the system’.
He says, “When I got to Europe I was still unfit and to go 49.0 long course in Rome I was stoked with that. Our goal was to go 49 and to almost go 48 I was very happy.” Chalmers clocked 49.08 in the Rome race.
In addition to meeting with a sports psychologist, Chalmers told The Advertiser he is more dedicated with his dryland training.
“Leading into Rio I didn’t do a whole lot of gym. I wasn’t overly motivated in the gym to do much, but coming back from heart surgery we’ve got a new gym coach.
“About five days after surgery I was back in the gym. I was doing some stuff on the treadmill and bike to keep my fitness up.
“The new gym coach has really motivated me to push myself and apply myself, so I definitely have got a little bit stronger because I am doing the two gym sessions a week to the best of my ability, rather than just going in and having a joke with the boys.”
This weekend the Port Lincoln native is set to swim his signature 100m freestyle, along with the 200m freestyle, 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 100m butterfly.