MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers says shoulder operations have left him feeling like a 40-year-old at the age of 23 but hopes his body will hold up for another Olympics at Paris in 2024.
The South Australian, who won 100 metres freestyle gold at Rio and silver at Tokyo, said everyday activities had become a grind after years of surgeries and punishment in the pool.
“The last two-and-a-half years has been very frustrating, dealing with shoulder injuries day-in, day-out,” Chalmers told reporters on Tuesday, a day before national championships start in Adelaide.
“It’s moreso the away-from-the-pool stuff that affects me, like my everyday lifestyle — I can’t sleep on my shoulders, driving, drinking coffees … anything lifting my shoulders is what sucks.
“If it was just the two hours, four hours a day I am in the pool that it was sore, it would be OK.
“But it’s the everyday life …. that you just can’t get away from, (it’s) just forever in your head.”
Chalmers said he had grave concerns for his physical future and was told by physios he would eventually be “pretty arthritic”.
“It is a scary thought,” he said.
“But you have got to do it to be at the top, unfortunately.
“And I have sacrificed and put my body on the line for so many years now to be at the top.”
Chalmers will swim butterfly only in Adelaide and will skip the world championships in Budapest in June to focus on the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
His struggles have not turned him off bidding for a medal at a third successive Games at Paris.
“Let’s hope it (the shoulders) goes until at least Paris … surely I have got a few more years in me,” he said.
“I turn 24 next month so still pretty young — unfortunately it feels like I am 40 most days.
“When I am done with swimming I probably won’t be able to lift my shoulders above my head.
“But do it while I can and then take it from there.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)