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Kyle Chalmers' first foray into the 100m butterfly on an international level has been a brutal disappointment for the 23-year-old at the FINA World Championships in Hungary.
Chalmers made the decision to add the event to his program with the intention to compete in it at the 2024 Paris Olympics, but his first hit-out in Budapest didn't go to plan.
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At the Australian trials earlier this year, Chalmers memorably elected to go to the World Championships, having earlier decided to miss the event - a decision which meant former pop star Cody Simpson would lose his place in the 100m butterfly in Budapest.
The move prompted some peculation of tension between the pair, but this was quickly allayed by Simpson, who cleared the air in the days after and will get an opportunity of his own at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games later this year.
However Simpson could be forgiven for wondering what might have been, after Chalmers turned in a well below average performance which saw miss out on a spot in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Chalmers recorded a time of 52.70, more than a second slower than his time at the Australian trials, where he finished second behind Matt Temple.
Temple qualified 12th overall for the semi finals in a time of 51.86, while Hungary’s Kristof Milak recorded the fastest time so far, a 50.68.
Chalmers was left frustrated following the conclusion of the Australian trials after it was rumoured he had opted to compete at the World Championships in response to news Simpson was dating his ex-girlfriend, Olympic gold medallist Emma McKeon.
— Cody Simpson (@CodySimpson) May 23, 2022
Kyle Chalmers left frustrated by Cody Simpson drama
Opting to skip the official team announcement functions as a result, Chalmers said he had to concentrate on his own mental health ahead of a busy year of competition.
"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."
McKeon was also less than impressed by the narrative surrounding the three.
In her own comments, she described the attention 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 later said he completely understood Chalmers' decision to compete in the 100m butterfly at the World Championships.
He said he was confident it would be the same if the situation were reversed.
"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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