Chalmers hates being called The Next Ian Thorpe
Australia's footy-loving swim prodigy hates the comparisons to Thorpe
Since his breakthrough a couple of years ago, Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers has had many labels tagged onto him.
Superfish. Australia's most important athlete. A once-in-a-generation talent. The next Ian Thorpe.
The youngster hates it all, especially the comparison to Australia's most decorated swimmer.
But those responsible for it say it is inevitable, after the 1.93m-tall teenager from Adelaide beat Thorpe's national records in the 100m freestyle for 14- and 15-year-olds, and set a new Australian age-group record for 16-year-olds in April this year, his 48.89sec effort demolishing Cameron McEvoy's previous mark of 49.70.
The 17-year-old, who is set to lead the charge from Down Under at the Fina World Junior Championships here starting today, is also the youngest swimmer since Thorpe, who was 15, to make Australia's team for the world championships this year, and won a silver in the men's 4x100 medley relay in Kazan.
On the comparisons with Thorpe, Kyle told The New Paper: "I don't really read what the newspapers write about me; Ian Thorpe made it in this sport, he is an Olympic and world champion and did everything in the sport.
"I am just 17 and won just a few races, I have a long way to go if I want to be anywhere near him.
"And we compete in different events, so I don't think it is fair to be compared with Thorpe, to be honest.
"We are two completely different athletes."
Thorpe specialised in the middle- distance freestyle events, and was especially dominant in the 400m race, while Kyle performs best in the 50m and 100m freestyle events.
Like many Australians, Kyle loves sport and plays a few.
He turns out for Immanuel College in Aussie Football, and actually broke his wrist and tore ankle ligaments in a footy game earlier this year, almost derailing his World Championships campaign.
"I am kind of born into football since my father used to play in the AFL and he coaches now, so I've been playing since I was four," he said.
"Football helps with my swimming in a cross-training way - I do well in kicking in swimming because of my training in football, and going to training with the boys is also mentally helpful to me, since swimming is an individual sport."
With the Olympic Games in Rio next year looming on the horizon, Kyle is focusing all his energies on swimming now, while aiming to complete Year 12 on the academic front next year.
A good showing this week at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, where he is the top seed in the 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle, will set him up nicely for Rio next year.
Kyle's times of 22.33sec and 48.69sec in the 50m free and 100 free are close to the world junior marks of 22.00 and 48.25, respectively.
He declined to divulge his targets for the meet here, beyond setting new personal bests.
"I've dropped a second since last year in the 100 free, which is a massive thing," said Kyle, who will also be competing in the 200m freestyle.
"I'll be focusing a lot on skill work, doing more dives and especially turns, since it is something I struggle with.
"Most of the swimmers are going to be faster at the Olympic trials next year, and I want to get onto the team."