Emma McKeon blocked it out. Cody Simpson tried to. Kyle Chalmers couldn’t and says his mental health is now suffering.
Chalmers cites the toll from “made up story lines” for missing the announcement of Australia’s swim team on Sunday night.
He was absent when Dolphins squads for the world titles and Commonwealth Games were named and the swimmers presented pool-side after the national titles in Adelaide.
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Instead, the Olympic gold and silver medallist was with family at his home town of Port Lincoln, some seven hours drive from the SA capital.
Some reports – totally unfounded – during the national trials suggested Chalmers changed his mind about racing at next month’s world championships out of spite.
Chalmers was romantically linked with McKeon last year.
McKeon now dates Simpson, a celebrity pop star who has returned to the pool.
The tabloid narrative suggested Chalmers reversed his decision not to swim at the worlds to keep Simpson off the team.
Chalmers finished second behind Matt Temple in the 100 metres butterfly at the selection trials, with Simpson third.
Only the top two secured selection for next month’s world championships in Budapest.
If Chalmers stuck to his original decision to skip the worlds, Simpson was set to be picked.
“I need to look after my mental health and get myself right,” Chalmers posted on Instagram.
” … The negative media attention surrounding my decision to compete at the worlds and the made up story lines surrounding my personal life have been more than I can handle.”
McKeon, who won four gold medals and three bronze at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, didn’t swim in Adelaide.
Her Olympic success guaranteed her pre-selection on the teams but she’s skipping the worlds anyway to focus on the Commonwealth Games in July-August.
McKeon described the fictional furore as “strange”.
“That is my personal life and I am quite a private person so, yeah, I don’t really like having it as news,” she said at the team presentation.
“I just block it out.
“As I said, I am a private person and I think I will always be that way.
“I am close to my family, close to my friends, and … they’re the ones I open up with.”
Simpson missed selection for the worlds.
But he’s on the Commonwealth Games team which had a looser selection criteria of a top-three finish at the trials.
“I have just tried to stay calm … and just trying to not look at what everyone was saying and writing and posting,” Simpson said.
The celebrity swimmer “absolutely” understood Chalmers’ reasoning for his change of mind and Chalmers’ right to do so.
“People like to spin a story and find a story out of something,” Simpson said.
“He (Chalmers), considering the limited prep he has had, got up and gave an incredible effort so nothing but respect to him for doing that.
“And he’s well within his rights to decide to swim.
” … If the tables were turned and I was in that position and I said I wanted to swim, I’d hope people would understand and respect that I had earned that place.”
Chalmers left for Port Lincoln on Friday, the day after his last swim at the trials.
Swimming Australia’s head coach Rohan Taylor spoke with him daily.
“He is just taking some time,” Taylor told AAP.
“It’s really important that we support him – and we are.
“We will do what we need to do to just make sure he has what he needs to be ready to meet us for the worlds and go to Comm Games.
“It’s something that is going on in this world and we need to be mindful of it.
“The fact that he is able to talk to us about it and we can put in place things is good.”