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Kyle Chalmers Won The 100m By Knowing Nothing About Swimming

Proof that ignorance is bliss.

15/08/2016 6:40 AM AEST | Updated August 15, 2016 10:00
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Too much introspection can be a bad thing, but Kyle Chalmers had no fear of that.

What a crack-up of a guy. While some Aussie athletes in the Rio 2016 Olympic pool wilted under pressure, eighteen-year-old swimming sensation Kyle Chalmers won 100m freestyle gold by being almost completely oblivious to everything going on around him.

"I haven't really followed swimming a whole lot," he admitted at a post-mortem for the Rio swim team.

"I think I didn't feel the pressure at all. I kind of flew under the radar massively, I didn't have to do any media leading into the Games... and I didn't know many of the other guys either which probably helped me in a way."

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How did I win? Still not sure, sorry.

Ah, the bliss of ignorance and a clear mind. That's how Australia's head coach Jacco Verhaeren saw it too.

"Well, it seems sometimes ignorance is a blessing, and that was good, you know?" he said.

In other words, Chalmers just kind of, y'know, winged it. Who needs coaches, eh?

The hulking blond South Australian was still racing at junior level as recently as last year.

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Wait, did that really just happen?

"Kyle surprised us already last year with some great swims in the relays at the world championships and a few weeks later becoming the world junior champion," Verhaeren said.

"It show what champions are made of. It's not the same for everyone but it definitely worked out for Kyle. It shows how good a racer he is, and very often these freestyle events are won by the racer that really can race the best."

Chalmers had size fifteen feet when he was 13, and always had the body of a power sprinter in the pool. But he wanted to play AFL like his dad Brett. Still does. Just this week, his dad suggested he might still have a future in the game. That's unlikely now, but the younger Chalmers has been carrying a footy around with wherever he goes in Rio, which seems to calm him down.

Hey, it works for him. Olympians these days analyse everything down to about seven decimal points, but as we've seen, too much analysis and introspection can be a bad thing.

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He's good as gold.

Look at Cate Campbell, who admitted she overthought her races. After winning 4 x100m relay gold for Australia on the opening night of swimming finals, Campbell disappointed in her individual events -- the 100m and 50m freestyle, missing the podium in both events.

Her 100m effort was particularly poor. She went out way too fast and crumbled in the final 50 metres to finish second last.

"I just spent too much emotional energy in the lead-up and even in the race. I let my head get ahead of me, and that's not something I should do," she said.

"It's hard when you're in form coming into an event, not to think about outcomes. I just let my imagination run away with me a little bit."

Kyle Chalmers didn't, and therein lay his secret.

Fronting a press conference with his trademark infectious, slightly goofy grin, Chalmers said he would go home and have a couple of weeks off because training's pretty all he's been doing lately.

"I know that sometimes after big meets I do struggle to get back into training, but I look forward to it."

"Unbelievable this kid," said Chalmers' teammate Madeline Groves, who claimed silver in the 200m backstroke, missing out on gold by just 0.03 seconds.

Meanwhile, Australia's Rio chef de mission Kitty Chiller admitted that things in the pool hadn't turned out exactly to plan.

"You can't deny that there were huge expectations on this team, and in some areas we weren't able to convert that potential," she said.

And in case you missed them...

KYLE WINS THE 100: OUR RACE REPORT

ODD COUPLE OF SWIMMING: OUR 100M FREESTYLE PREVIEW

BIT OF A DISAPPOINTMENT: OUR AUSSIE RIO SWIMMING WRAP

Who is Kyle Chalmers?

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