Kyle Chalmers Visualizes Tokyo Gold: “…..To Put Myself In That Position Where I Believe I Can Win”

Kyle Chalmers alone in lane GC Camp Feb 21 4
SOLO COSSING: Kyle Chalmers goes through his paces alone during the Australian National Event Camp on the Gold Coast: Photo Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Operations, injuries and a postponed Olympics has only made Olympic 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers hungrier than ever to defend his gold medal in Tokyo this year.

Chalmers, still only 22, has used visualisation methods to picture himself winning gold again in Tokyo and becoming only the seventh Australian to defend an Olympic title in the pool.

Visualising touching the wall ahead of America’s two-time 100m freestyle world champion and good mate and Olympic favourite Caeleb Dressel.

“Over these last 12 months, I have used racing (the 100m freestyle final) as a bit of motivation,” Kyle Chalmers has revealed.

NEC Chris Mooney Tom Fraser Holmes Kyle Chalmers Ian Thorpe Shannon Rollason

GRAND CHANCELLORS: Olympic golden boys Kyle Chalmers and Ian Thorpe chilling out in the Grandstand on the Gold Coast during the Australian National Event Camp. Thorpe and members of the men’s 4x100m freestyle team from Sydney 2000 had addressed  the 60-strong group the night before. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

“It has been quite challenging with the Games getting cancelled, my shoulder injury (and subsequent operation 12 weeks ago) and not being able to swim.

“So for me I need that motivation to push me through and Caeleb is obviously a great mate and a great competitor and I do visualise that race and I am visualising myself swimming, because obviously I haven’t been able to actually swim with my arms.

“Visualisation has been a massive part of my training this last period. Imagining myself swimming while I’m kicking along, creating that muscle memory, so it has been good. I think it is a really important area to tap into.”

And when asked if he visualised winning Chalmers was quick to reply: “Well, you’ve got to believe that, otherwise there is no point in competing.

“I think for me, I’m not going to stand behind the blocks if I don’t believe I can win so I need to put myself in that position where I believe I can win and have that full confidence in myself.”

And Kyle Chalmers is certainly one to turn a negative into a positive – and adding even more power to his already powerhouse in-built outboard motor.

Kyle Chalmers stretch GC CAMP FEB 21

GREEN IS GO: Kyle Chalmers limbers up before hitting the pool on the Gold Coast. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

“My kick has definitely improved which is a great thing for me because my kick has always been a weaker point,” said Chalmers.

“It might look like I have a powerful kick when I’m racing but it is not overly strong, so for me to have to kick for that period of time, as hard as it was mentally to get through, I know that there have been benefits from doing it.”

And when will we see him back racing again?

“I know that my racing has to be done in June at the Olympic trials (in Adelaide) and then in July at the Olympic Games…. but hopefully I’ll be back in the water at NSW State Championships in March.” said Chalmers.

KYLE CHALMERS AND TOM FRASER HOLMES

SCREEN SAVER: “Isn’t that’s what mates are for…” Tommy Fraser-Holmes applies sunscreen to Kyle Chalmers on the Gold Coast. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media.

“I still have not got that full range and strength back. I spent the whole entire year kicking so I have lost my muscles through my shoulder.

“It doesn’t give me all that much pain. There are a few strokes that hurt and pinch which frustrate me but I think I could have got through 100m freestyle, 60m underwater and a bit of swimming (in the Short Course Relay Blitz Meet in the National Event Camp last week).”

Since Chalmers became Australia’s fourth man (joining Jon Henricks in 1956; John Devitt in 1960 and Mike Wenden in 1968) to win the coveted blue ribband 100m freestyle in Rio in 2016, it has not been a smooth road for the man they call “The Big Tuna.”

Chalmers has undergone two operations for a heart condition known as supraventricular tachycardia – an abnormally fast heart rhythm, suffered during training and competitions – forcing him out of the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.

He returned in 2019 to stage a thrilling battle with Dressel – finishing second to the American and their duel in Tokyo will be one of the major highlights as the world’s two major swimming powers go head-to-head.

Chalmers was in superb form in Sydney last March at the NSW Championships on the eve of the COVID crisis – and that was the last time he actually swam in an individual race.

And after an off-season in Adelaide, interrupted by lockdowns, there was another hiccup – the shoulder surgery some 12 weeks ago.

(Although two weeks prior he did comeback to split 48.55 (fly start) for his club Marion in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the South Australian State Championships).

And Chalmers can take some solace from his president, two-time Olympic champion over the 1500m freestyle, Kieren Perkins who knows all about winning, especially when asked to compare preparing a team culture and elite performance on the eve of the National Event Camp.

“The Olympics is about Elite swimmers preparing for an Olympic Games and they are only ultimately concerned with one thing and that’s being prepared to race in Tokyo and win – all the side benefits – the culture building, the team and bringing people together to build relationships absolutely matters but when you cut to the chase it’s High Performance.

“The focus and intensity of that moment when you are about to step out behind the blocks after four, six, eight, ten, 12 years of your life, dedicated to a single opportunity a single moment in time and 50m of water in front and seven other warm bodies around you, that you are there to beat – the rest is noise and irrelevant.”

“They are focused preparing – eating sleeping and making sure that they get all the physio and doctor treatments they need so when the whistle goes and they are standing on those blocks they are 100 percent ready to perform….”

A slice of Australian swimming history awaits and the opportunity to join the greats, including Perkins.

Australia’s list of the successful defence of Olympic gold in the pool:

  • Dawn Fraser (100m freestyle): 1956, 1960, 1964
  • Murray Rose (400m freestyle): 1956, 1960
  • David Theile (100m backstroke): 1956, 1960
  • Kieren Perkins (1500m freestyle): 1992, 1996
  • Grant Hackett (1500m freestyle): 2000, 2004
  • Ian Thorpe (400m freestyle): 2000, 2004
Kyle Chalmers with James Roberts GC Camp Feb 21 3

SHOULDER ARMS: Kyle Chalmers and James Roberts keep an eye the clock on the Gold Coast. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

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