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Kyle Chalmers made the heartbreaking decision to skip the announcement of Australia's swim team on Sunday night as rumours and innuendo surrounding Cody Simpson took their toll.
Chalmers was named in Australia's team for this year's world titles and Commonwealth Games, announced in Adelaide at the end of the national championships.
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However he wasn't in attendance for the team unveiling on Sunday night, choosing instead to be with family in Port Lincoln.
The Olympic gold medallist's decision to swim at the world titles in Budapest came after he initially flagged his intentions to skip the event because he didn't even know if he would be swimming this year.
With Chalmers now heading to the worlds, Simpson will miss out and have to wait until the Commonwealth Games to make his debut on the Australian team.
Last week Chalmers was left seething over rumours that his change of heart was due to the fact that Simpson is now dating his ex-girlfriend Emma McKeon.
A clearly emotional Chalmers then skipped the official team announcement on Sunday night due to mental health issues associated with the furore.
"I need to look after my mental health and get myself right as I prepare for a massive year in the pool," 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.
"After giving my all and being so welcoming to the media all my career, it's a shame to see them publish story lines questioning my integrity all for the sake of extra clicks and money.
"The best thing for me now is to take a break at home in Port Lincoln, surrounded by my friends and family."
Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson respond
McKeon, who won four gold medals and three bronze at last year's Tokyo Olympics, didn't swim in Adelaide.
Her Olympic success meant she earned pre-selection for the Aussie team, however she is skipping the world titles anyway to focus on the Commonwealth Games in July-August.
McKeon described the fictional 'love triangle' narrative 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 world titles after he finished third in the 100m butterfly behind Chalmers.
Only the top two in each final earned selection for the worlds, but the top three gained Commonwealth Games places.
"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 former pop star said he "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."
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