Kyle Chalmers blasted the media for its coverage as he made a final call that sealed Cody Simpson’s fate following his swimming comeback.
Kyle Chalmers has slammed sections of the media for its coverage of him at the Australian Swimming Championships as he missed Sunday night’s team announcements in Adelaide, citing mental health concerns.
Australia named its teams for the World Championships and Commonwealth Games but Chalmers was absent from the ceremony in Adelaide, referencing the storm that surrounded how his decision to compete would affect Cody Simpson.
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Chalmers, who finished second in the men’s 100m butterfly behind Matt Temple in Adelaide, was initially planning not to swim the event at next month’s World Championships in Budapest. That would have opened the door for former pop star Simpson to make the Aussie team after he pulled out the third-fastest time at trials.
However, Chalmers later said he had reconsidered. Only the top two get a ticket to Budapest, so Simpson missed out on a spot.
Chalmers said he has always loved butterfly but his body has not previously allowed him to add it to his freestyle program. Now in a position to swim both freestyle and butterfly, he is hoping to build towards including the latter event in his schedule at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Although Simpson misses out on a spot at the World Championships, he will be part of the Dolphins squad for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham following his third-placed finish in the 100m butterfly last week.
It’s a remarkable achievement for someone who only returned to swimming 18 months ago after 10 years away, ditching his guitar and microphone for togs and goggles.
“I’m through the roof to be honest. I was holding my breath all day, all week. It’s such a relief to finally have that confirmation and to be going,” Simpson told Amazon Prime.
“When I got the text I was sitting there in my seat and I just sunk down and started hugging everyone I saw.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet to be honest. It may not feel real until I’m on the blocks in England. I’m lost for words.
“I’m so glad to have so many amazing new friends. I’ve already made so many amazing new friends and I’m excited for the new experiences to come. Hopefully this is the first of a few.”
Chalmers hit out at those suggesting the selection storyline had anything to do with his personal life, as rumours swirled after it emerged Simpson is dating Chalmers’ ex-girlfriend, fellow swim sensation Emma McKeon.
“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 storylines 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 storylines 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.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my country again, who knows how many more chances I will have to do so … So I am making the most of my opportunities and living out my dreams before it’s all over. I hope I can make you all proud.”
Swimming Australia supported Chalmers’ decision to step away from the spotlight, saying in a statement: “The last few days have been difficult for Kyle, both mentally and emotionally.
“He believes it’s in the best interest of his mental health to remain in Port Lincoln with his family for the next few days. Swimming Australia fully supports his decision.”
Simpson revealed last week Chalmers reached out to him to clear the air as their selection story dominated the headlines.
“He was cool, he sort of reached out and we sort of cleared the air about it. So it’s all good in that sense. I would sort of respect his decision either way,” Simpson told the Amazon Prime Video commentary team.
“I sort of realised he’d changed his mind as he has every right to do obviously. He has the spot. I didn’t finish second, I finished third. So for him to have done that (finished second) especially with the limited prep he has had is pretty remarkable.”
Simpson said he was just thrilled to part of the emerging blockbuster butterfly rivalry between himself, Chalmers and Temple.
“It’s exciting to be a part of something like that,” he said.
“To have been one of those three guys for me is crazy already. I look at those two guys and even up until two days ago I thought, ‘God, they are so far ahead of me. I have so much work to do to even be in the running’.”