SYDNEY — Rio Olympics 100-meter freestyle gold medalist Kyle Chalmers has withdrawn from July’s world swimming championships to undergo surgery for a worsening heart condition.
Chalmers has supraventricular tachycardia, or recurrent rapid heartbeat, that is normally not life-threatening but can impact on his quality of life.
“I have increasingly begun to suffer from an abnormally fast heart rhythm during training and competitions, which now requires surgery,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “I have had surgery in the past and, unfortunately, it did not work.”
The 18-year-old Chalmers said it was a difficult decision to miss the world championships in Budapest, but he did so with a longer-term view, setting his sights on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.
In April, he finished second to Cameron McEvoy at the Australian championships.
Swimming Australia head coach Jacco Verhaeren said athletes’ health and well-being were the priority.
“We are at the beginning of a new Olympic cycle and, for some of our athletes, we need to look at longevity to allow them to stay at the highest level for longer,” he said. “Kyle has our full support and we know he will use this time away from competition positively and to his advantage to return for a home Commonwealth Games in 2018 and beyond.”
Chalmers will have the heart operation within several weeks.
“There is never a good time for this type of procedure, but given I’ve suffered from these symptoms during two of the past three major meets and, following my doctor’s advice, I have made the tough decision to withdraw,” he said.