(Reuters) – Olympic gold medallist swimmer Kyle Chalmers said he hopes that by speaking out about his struggles over mental health he can inspire the next generation to follow suit.
Chalmers, who won Olympic 100 metres freestyle gold in Rio as a teenager and took silver in Tokyo in 2021, took a mental health break last year after a row about his decision to race at the world championships.
Last month, triple Olympic breaststroke champion Adam Peaty, Chalmers’s friend, said he would skip the British swimming championships to focus on his mental health.
Asked if his open discussions about mental health may have influenced other swimmers like Peaty, Chalmers told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph: “I’d like to hope so.”
“I’ve had to step away from the pool a couple of times with mental health problems and it’s something that’s not easy at all – especially for guys,” added the 24-year-old, who won the 100m freestyle at the Australian Championships this week.
“But standing up and saying ‘This is how I’m actually feeling, these are the pressures that sport gives us’, hopefully makes it easier for the next generation coming through.
“Someone like Peaty, who is one of my best mates … for him to come out and spend Christmas with me and being able to talk about those challenges was probably not only good for him, but really good for me too.”
Chalmers will next set his sights on this year’s world swimming championships, which are scheduled to take place in Fukuoka, Japan, from July 14 to 30. The Australian trials for the tournament take place in June.
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)