Kyle Chalmers, the Olympic champion sprinter, has taken a blowtorch to media coverage of the selection drama at the Australian Swimming Championships after staying away from Sunday night’s team announcements due to mental health concerns.
Chalmers found himself at the centre of a story involving former pop star Cody Simpson, whose World Championships spot he took after a late decision to swim in the meet in Budapest after initially leaving it off his calendar.
What should have been a simple swimming story became tabloid fodder given Simpson is dating Chalmer’s reported ex-girlfriend Emma McKeon, the superstar swimmer who broke a host of records with her feats in the Tokyo pool.
Chalmers savaged the idea that had anything to do with his decision and said it was purely because his shoulders and times were far better than expected. Butterfly had been his first stroke, he said, and he wants to add the 100m to his program at the Paris Games along with the 100m freestyle.
Chalmers was named in both squads while Simpson, who returned to the pool after a 10-year break, will make his debut for the Dolphins in Birmingham after his third-placed finish in the 100m fly, where Chalmers finished second behind Matt Temple.
“The past few days have been really challenging for me mentally and emotionally and it’s taken a massive toll on me. I need to look after my mental health and get myself right as I prepare for a massive year in the pool,” Chalmers wrote on Instagram.
“The negative media attention surrounding my decision to compete at worlds and the made up story lines surrounding my personal life have been more than I can handle. After giving my all to the sport and being so welcoming to the media all my career, it’s a shame to see them publish storyline’s questioning my integrity all for the sake of extra clicks and money.
“The best thing for me right now is to take a break at home in Port Lincoln, surrounded by my friends and family.