PERHAPS the most unfair comparison a swimmer could receive at age 13 would be to be likened to Australia’s greatest ever Olympian, Ian Thorpe. But the parallels between West Beach’s Kyle Chalmers and the Thorpedo at the same age are hard to ignore.
Kyle this month replicated Thorpe’s remarkable 1996 feat of qualifying to compete at an Olympic Swimming Trials as a 13-year-old.
Like Thorpe in ‘96, Kyle is not a realistic chance at making Australia’s Olympic team this year but will use the trials, at Marion’s State Aquatics Centre in March, as a learning curve. Kyle has qualified to compete in the 50m backstroke and the 50m and 100m butterfly. He is also within a fraction of a second of qualifying in the 50m and 100 freestyle.
In 100m free, his best time is virtually identical to Thorpe’s at the same age. Kyle is also about the same height as Thorpe was at the same age - a little over 182cm or 6ft - and has the same shoe size, 15.
“I do remember him a little bit but not that much,” Kyle said of Thorpe.
“I didn’t start swimming until 2008 and he had already stopped by then.
“I’m not that nervous about the (Olympic) Trials because I don’t have heaps of pressure to do well in them.
“I’m the youngest one out there so it will just be experience.”
Kyle, who attends Immanuel College and competes for Norwood Swimming Club, won a remarkable nine individual gold medals at the recent SA Age Swimming Championships and set six state records.
He was awaiting confirmation but believed he had also set two national age records. Kyle’s father - former Port Adelaide and Adelaide Crows player - Brett Chalmers said his son’s laid back attitude would stand him in good sted as more and more attention came his way. “There is some attention on him now,” said Brett, who moved the family to Adelaide last year, partly to give Kyle more opportunity with his swimming.
“We were back in Port Lincoln last week and every second person wanted to know how Kyle was going with his swimming, and the local paper were doing an article with him. “But he’s a pretty quiet young fella and he takes it all in his stride.”
WEST Coast swimmers were on fire at the South Australian Country Championships this month winning 22 gold, 15 silver and three bronze individual medals, two relay gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
New state country records, one Australian Age National time and another swimmer on the cusp of achieving national times made for an exciting weekend in Port Pirie. The West Coast Swimming Club continued its tradition of achieving success with a small number of competitive swimmers, 14, finishing fourth overall.
The four-day weekend started with Superfish, an introductory carnival for young competitive swimmers. The club's nine young swimmers, ranging in age from six to 10, all produced outstanding personal best times with Yemeya Coleman-Smith, Tommy Ford and Xanthia Clark clear stand outs in the competition. Kalani Coleman-Smith, Jaimie Ford, Mackai Harridan, Somaiya Harridan, Ania Constantinopoulous and Sophie Traeger were strong and consistent participants.
Yemeya and Xanthia went on to compete in day one of the championship's 100 metre events. The championships, involving the top 3 per cent of country athletes, started with Jade Calverley winning gold and finishing with a total of five gold medals.
Brooke Traeger shone in her age group with gold medal performances and records in her pet butterfly events. Teammate Tash Hammond took the gold and record in the 50m freestyle event. Between them the girls made the majority of age group finals with Brooke finishing with two gold and two silver individual medals. Bri Veldhuyzen was her usual cruisey self, taking silver in the 16-year-old 50m breaststroke, while the Howell twins Sheridan and Kendall were consistent and invaluable in the relays.
The boys then stepped up and raised the bar. James Andrews, Nik Constantinopoulous and Bailey Harridan were never in doubt when combined with Henry Lambert to win the 13 and under boys freestyle relay, finishing 25 metres ahead of the field. Relays changed in the medley events to see Levi Proude, Luke Andrews, James Andrews and Henry Lambert win the 15 and under gold and Bailey Harridan, Tommy Ford, Max Lambert and Nik Constantinopoulous taking silver in the 13 and under event. Individually the boys swam outstanding times, dropping by up to ten seconds. James took two gold, Bailey two gold and one silver and Max two silver and one bronze. Henry Lambert, Luke Andrews and Levi Proude completed an amazing medal haul; Henry won three individual gold, three silver and three bronze medals, Luke won four gold and three silver and Levi won nine gold and one silver, along with the boys all setting new country records.
West Coast and former club Port Lincoln hold many records between Kyle Chalmers, Levi Proude, Luke Andrews, Brooke Traeger, Tash Hammond, Amelia Dahlitz and records from as far back as 1989 held by Rebecca Paterson and the records set in the 1990s by Danielle Lewis alongside Olympic swimmers from other
regional SA towns Sophie Edington, Ryan Mitchell and Hayden Stoeckel.
Levi Proude and Luke Andrews stepped up with major improvements in time to reach towards National Age Standards (top 3 per cent of age swimmers in Australia). Levi achieved a 50m freestyle time of 25.76 and is just outside the 16-year-old times, swimming 55.9 for the 100m freestyle. Luke is also now sitting one second outside of 14-year-old boys 100m breaststroke swimming 1.16. A huge achievement from both boys. The West Coast male onslaught continued throughout the meet going head to head with the other
Sonia Ford is our publicity officer and would love to hear of noteworthy news items from our swimming community!