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.”
Sonia Ford is our publicity officer and would love to hear of noteworthy news items from our swimming community!