Swim champ ditches treats and laps up his new life-bal­ance

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - REECE HOM­FRAY

FRI­DAY night used to be schnitzel night for Kyle Chalmers. He’d go to the Earl of Le­ices­ter Ho­tel with his mates, or­der the big­gest chicken schnitzel he could get and de­vour it the same way he stalks and gob­bles up his ri­vals in that dev­as­tat­ing fi­nal 50m in the pool.

Then there was “Wendy’s Wed­nes­day”, when his mid­week treat was a “su­per­shake”. Once a week, on any given morn­ing he’d go to McDon­ald’s for brekkie af­ter train­ing and dur­ing the day he’d snack on lol­lies.

“And ev­ery lunch, I would eat out be­cause that was my first pe­riod of be­ing home by my­self,” Chalmers said.

And then he won an Olympic gold medal in Rio. In the 100m freestyle.

That was the 2016 ver­sion of Chalmers – young, fast and fear­less but who didn’t do much gym and barely knew what the word skin­fold meant or pay at­ten­tion to them.

To be fair, though, he didn’t give the Olympics much thought ei­ther un­til he got there, and even then he never pic­tured him­self stand­ing on the blocks, let alone on top of the podium af­ter beat­ing Caeleb Dres­sel and Nathan Adrian in the fi­nal.

The 2018 ver­sion of Chalmers is like a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son. Sit­ting on the pool deck at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Cen­tre, he looked fit, strong, and to the un­e­d­u­cated eye, lean. But in a swim­mer’s world, there’s lean and then there’s lean.

“I’m about 5kg over­weight,” he says af­ter re­turn­ing to rac­ing from his midyear break at the na­tional short-course cham­pi­onships.

If Chalmers is 5kg over­weight, he does a good job of hid­ing it.

“In Rio, I was 92kg but it’s un­re­al­is­tic to get back to that be­cause I was 18 years old with a very high me­tab­o­lism, whereas that’s slowed down quite a bit now and I’m do­ing a lot of gym work,” he said.

“It’s more so now get­ting my body com­po­si­tion back to where I need it to be. I know I race well when my skin­folds are around 39; at the mo­ment it’s about mid-50s.

“In Rio, I wasn’t think­ing about those things and I could get away with eat­ing any­thing I wanted,” he said.

A com­bi­na­tion of things has now changed.

Nat­u­rally, Chalmers is ma­tur­ing as a pro­fes­sional ath­lete – he is des­per­ately hun­gry not for his next schnitzel but to de­fend his Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, and his Mar­ion train­ing squad has im­proved with the ad­di­tion of in­ter­state swim­mers.

One of them is his girl­friend Madi Wil­son – her­self an Olympic gold medal­list and world cham­pion.

Chalmers has a lot to thank her for. “I’m very, very strict now (with diet) and hav­ing Madi around home has made me re­alise what a pro­fes­sional ath­lete should eat, and also I can’t get away with eat­ing like I used to any­more,” he said.

“Now that I’m spend­ing more time at Madi’s house, cook­ing for our­selves, I’m mak­ing the right choices.

“I was chat­ting to ‘Bish’ (coach Peter Bishop) about that the other day and I un­der­stand ex­actly what I need to do to get back to race weight and it will hap­pen.”

Chalmers and Wil­son make a good team in­side the pool and out. If Wil­son, 24, brings her pro­fes­sion­al­ism, Chalmers, 20, brings the fun.

“He’s taught me about bal­ance,” Wil­son says. “He’s the so­cial but­ter­fly, I’m not as much.

“I was on the (na­tional) team for a very long time, con­tin­u­ously do­ing the same thing and I’m at a point this year where I’m learn­ing a lot more.

“It’s a bit later in my ca­reer but I know things out­side of the pool have to be put in place prop­erly to make it work in.”

Part of find­ing that bal­ance was learn­ing to en­joy the breaks from train­ing when they ar­rived. Af­ter the Pan Pacs in Tokyo in Au­gust – where Chalmers won the 100m freestyle – he and Wil­son went back to his home town of Port Lin­coln with friend and Crows’ ruck­man Sam Ja­cobs and his wife.

“It is nice to have a break and feel like what it is to live like a nor­mal per­son, oth­er­wise you do burn out,” Chalmers said.

“Af­ter the (Rio) Olympics, I thought this (swim­ming) was my en­tire life and I did ev­ery­thing I could and pushed ev­ery­thing aside and fo­cused com­pletely on swim­ming, and then I re­alised it wasn’t re­ally work­ing for me.”

Wil­son moved to Ade­laide in April and says she’s “lov-

ing it” but the pe­riod of ad­just­ment in the wa­ter con­tin­ues.

“I’m feel­ing very set­tled, it’s such a good fa­cil­ity and pro­gram here. I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing as good as what they’ve got so I’m look­ing for­ward to the next two years.

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