A Games to remember for SASI swimmers
In their second Games following Rio 2016, SASI athletes Kyle Chalmers and Madison Wilson had a brilliant run in Tokyo, coming home with five medals between them of the 20 medals the Dolphins won in the pool.
In Tokyo, Chalmers won silver in the 100m Freestyle, bronze in the 4x100m and 4x200m Freestyle Relay, while also finishing an honourable 5th in the 4x100m Medley Relay.
Wilson won gold in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay, bronze in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay and finished 8th in the 200m Freestyle after impressively making the final in a competitive group.
SASI’s Assistant Swimming Coach Craig Stewart had been keeping in touch with the swimmers during Tokyo, and said they were both happy with their achievements.
“It’s been a very challenging year and a very challenging cycle, especially for Kyle who had shoulder surgery only seven months ago,” said Stewart.
“To see them stand up and perform on the big stage and reach peak performance is a huge testament to their character.”
Stewart played a pivotal role in Chalmers’ and Wilson’s Tokyo preparation, assisting SASI’s Head Swimming Coach Peter Bishop facilitate the running of their day-to-day programs.
Stewart explained that despite Tokyo being the biggest swimming event on the calendar, the training schedule for the swimmers leading up to the Games was pretty normal.
“On a weekly basis they train nine times, have two to three gym sessions, one or two massages and Kyle would have a lot of physio for his shoulder on top of that.
“Then from March we raced once a month until the trials in June and then the Games began in July.”
The swimming coach said it had been very nerve-racking watching Chalmers and Wilson race on TV at home.
“It has been a five year build up and when you sit down to watch the races it’s kind of surreal that it’s actually happening.
“It’s challenging being away from it all and watching it from afar but exciting at the same time.”
When asked what it is Stewart most admires about Chalmers and Wilson, he said it is their ability to perform under pressure.
“It’s a special thing they’ve definitely been born with that I’m not sure can be coached.
“They raise their standard to the pressure, and as it raises, they embrace it and lean into it, which not many people can do.
“Their gratitude and humility are also a huge testament to their character.”
Chalmers who swam 47.08 seconds and was only 0.06 seconds short of gold in the 100m Freestyle final which he won in Rio, spoke after his race about the result.
“It’s half a second faster than I was in Rio, so to win gold in 2016 and come back and win silver is great,” said the six-time Games medallist.
“I left absolutely everything in the pool and did everything I could to win for my country.
“Life’s not always about winning, but it is nice.”
Chalmers underwent shoulder surgery in 2020 and it almost put his Tokyo aspirations to a grinding halt.
“If the Games went ahead last year, I wouldn’t be here swimming,” said Chalmers.
“It’s great to be back swimming fast with my shoulder feeling good.”
The 2016 gold medallist also took the time to thank everyone back home for helping him along the journey.
“I’m really grateful for all the support from everyone, especially my family who are there with me day in, day out.
“I know that I may be the person standing behind the blocks doing the race, but everyone is in my corner including my coaches, support staff, family, friends, all who I’m forever grateful for.”
The swimmer who narrowly beat Chalmers in the 100m Freestyle final, American Caeleb Dressel, made sure to give credit to the SASI athlete after the race.
“I knew Kyle was going to be the guy to beat,” Dressel said.
“He brings the best out of me, and I hope I bring the best out of him.
“If you want to learn how to swim 100m Freestyle, watch Kyle not me.”
While you may think there is a secret to Chalmers’ and Wilson’s success, SASI Assistant Swimming Coach Craig Stewart revealed there is no real secret.
“They just work super hard every day, are consistent, have a huge amount of attention to detail and have very high standards,” Stewart said.
Australia couldn’t be more proud of these two superstars of the pool!