Heat is on for Chalmers
KYLE Chalmers hopes the lessons he learnt during last year's forced sabbatical will lead to him having a long career in the pool after admitting he allowed the pressure of being Olympic champion get to him after the Rio Games.
Chalmers heads into the Commonwealth Games trials on Wednesday back to his best after being forced to withdraw from last year's world championships to have surgery to correct a heart problem.
But the mental break he received may have been just as beneficial, with the South Australian admitting he had struggled to come to terms with the glare of the spotlight after becoming an Olympic champion at just 18.
"It probably did get to me a little," Chalmers said.
"There was really a rollercoaster ride. I won an Olympic gold medal at 18 year old and the stuff that came with that was something I never even thought would happen.
"Going to an AFL grand final, which I'd never been to but was my dream; going around in the back of a car and meeting the Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield; speaking with guys that I've watched on TV - Sam Mitchell and Matthew Pavlich and Joel Selwood - it was just really surreal.
"I had lots of guest speaking roles and I was doing those two to three times a week and trying to train and travel and I guess I probably just burnt out a bit.
"So having that time where I could do my own thing and just be Kyle for a while … it was cool to experience that and it motivated me to get back in the pool and made me realise that there are so many great things that come with sport.
"I've just got to control myself now. There's always going to be roller coasters, highs and lows in the sport and if I've learnt that at such a long age, it hopefully means I can have a long career."
Chalmers will need to be near the top of his game at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre on Wednesday just to make it through the heats of the 200m freestyle in one of the deepest fields in Australian history.
With no semi-finals at the Games trials, the pace will be on in the heats and some of the favourites are going to miss Wednesday night's final.
"You've got Dave McKeon, who's ranked 11th, who's one of our best 200m freestylers and Cam (McEvoy) is right down the order as well.
"So the morning is going to be very fast heats, probably the fastest we've seen in the history of Australian 200m freestyle.
"I'm going to have to be on it and hopefully I can qualify for a final.
"That's the ultimate goal. I haven't done a lot of 200m work really, especially race-wise, so I've got to make sure I swim my own race and not get caught up in it like I did last year."
Chalmers finished second to Mack Horton at last year's nationals, with the 1500m specialist a surprise winner as the field went out slowly in a tactical but slow race.
Horton doesn't expect that to be the case again and has said if he wins the event again, it would be an "accident".
"I'll just have a crack," Horton said. "I'd like to be in the final, I'd like to be in the relay.
"It'd be a big mistake (if the others approached the final as they did last year).
"Typically I just try and stick with them for as long as I can … I'll just have to see what happens."
McEvoy heads into the 200m as the ninth seed but is unfazed, with the mark two seconds off his best.
"I'm still in the middle lanes for the heats, all I've got to do is make it into that final and see how I go," he said.
"It's going to be tough. I'd be pretty interested to see if we can get a qualification for a final with all eight guys under 1:48, that's never been done in Australia before, so I reckon this year is the year to put that on the board."
St Peters Western medley specialist Clyde Lewis leads the field with a seed time of 1min 46.79sec but the top 15 swimmers will be challenging for eight places in the final in a stacked field.