Teenage Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers has pulled out of July’s world swimming championships and is to undergo surgery for a worsening heart condition.
Rio Games 100m freestyle gold medallist Chalmers has supraventricular tachycardia, or recurrent rapid heartbeat that is normally not life-threatening but can impact quality of life.
Chalmers said it was a difficult decision to miss the world championships in Budapest but did so with a longer-term view, setting his sights on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.
“I have been swimming with an ongoing heart condition known as supraventricular tachycardia and have increasingly begun to suffer from an abnormally fast heart rhythm during training and competitions, which now requires surgery,” the 18-year-old said in a statement.
“I have had a surgery in the past, and unfortunately, it did not work.
“Whilst the timing for this follow up is not ideal, the symptoms have reached a point where I must act to ensure I am in peak physical condition for next year’s Commonwealth Games trials and hopefully the Commonwealth Games.”
The condition forced Chalmers to pull out of the 100m final at the national short course titles late last year.
Three months earlier he won one of Australia’s three Olympic swimming gold medals in Rio when he upstaged his big name rivals in the 100m final.
Last month, he came second to Cameron McEvoy at the national championships.
Chalmers is expected to undergo surgery in coming weeks and said he expected to return to the pool not long after.
“There is never a good time for this type of procedure, but given I’ve suffered from these symptoms during two of the past three major meets, and following my doctor’s advice, I have made the tough decision to withdraw,” Chalmers said.
“I can’t wait to be back in the pool in a few weeks and I wish all the Aussies competing at the world championships the best of luck.”
Australian swimming coach Jacco Verhaeren backed Chalmers’ long-term view.
“We are at the beginning of a new Olympic cycle, and for some of our athletes we need to look at longevity to allow them to stay at the highest level for longer,” Verhaeren said.
“Kyle has our full support and we know he will use this time away from competition positively and to his advantage to return for a home Commonwealth Games in 2018 and beyond.”