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World title test awaits Rio champ Chalmers

Australian swim coach Jacco Verhaeren admits Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers faces a challenge dealing with the limelight at July's world titles.

World title test awaits Rio champ Chalmers

Australian swim coach Jacco Verhaeren admits Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers faces a challenge dealing with the limelight at July's world titles.

Life in a fishbowl should come easy for someone dubbed the "Big Tuna".

But Rio Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers faces some "battles and challenges" in the limelight ahead of July's world swim titles in Budapest, Australian coach Jacco Verhaeren admits.


Chalmers got a crash course on handling expectation at this week's five-day national titles in Brisbane which concluded on Thursday.

It didn't end well.

Chalmers - still just 18 - walked away without a national title, admitting he felt the heat as Olympic 100m freestyle champion.

All eyes will again be on Chalmers when he headlines a 31-strong Australian squad in Hungary.

Verhaeren hoped lessons learned from Brisbane would steel Chalmers for an even bigger test that awaits in July.

"You leave Australia almost anonymous and come back world famous - that's a difficult position to be in," Verhaeren said.

"He will have some battles and challenges for sure (ahead of world titles) but I have no doubt he will learn."

Chalmers won't have to look far for inspiration.

Verhaeren saluted Cameron McEvoy for bouncing back from not only his Rio disappointment but his domestic 200m disaster in Brisbane.

McEvoy was the Rio 100m favourite but was accused by Verhaeren of suffering "stage fright" when he faded to sixth in the final as a then unheralded Chalmers surged to gold.

McEvoy's mental strength again became an issue in Brisbane when he faded to fifth in the 200m final, sabotaging his chances of a fourth straight domestic title.

However, McEvoy promptly announced himself as a world force again when he later held out Chalmers' trademark whirlwind finish to claim national 100m freestyle gold in the year's fastest time.

"I think winning that race was very important for him, showing he has made a step forward which is very encouraging," Verhaeren said.

"It's great to see him back on the horse."

It seems Australia will need McEvoy at his best in Budapest.

Rookies make up almost a third of Australia's world titles squad after some big name no shows.

Ex-world champions Cate Campbell and James Magnussen, Rio Olympic medallists Maddie Groves, Jess Ashwood and Tamsin Cook and former world No.1 Thomas Fraser-Holmes are unavailable as they look to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and beyond.

"In reality you can't make up for their absence," Verhaeren said.

"But I am okay with people who withdraw from a team as long as it is backed up with a solid plan that allows them to return.

"And they all had good reasons. It's thinking about the longevity of their careers."

Australia's world titles team has an average age of 21 and boasts 11 debutants.

The team still features 19 Rio Olympians including individual gold medallists Mack Horton (400m freestyle) and Chalmers.

Holly Barratt, 29, is Australia's oldest ever rookie and Kaylee McKeown - just 15 - is the team's youngest.

Backstroke champion Emily Seebohm will contest a record equalling sixth world titles.

AAP


AAP



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