Australian swim star to undergo heart surgery, miss world champs

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Kyle Chalmers, the Olympic 100m freestyle champion, will undergo heart surgery and miss the world championships in July.

The 18-year-old Chalmers has Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), an elevated-heart-rate condition that can cause chest pain and fainting.

Chalmers had three “attacks” this year related to his condition, according to 7 News in Australia. He was diagnosed at age 12 and had one previous operation, according to 9 News in Australia.

“We decided it was in Kyle’s best long-term interest to get the surgery done sooner rather than later,” Chalmers’ coach, Peter Bishop, said in a Swimming Australia press release. “This will enable Kyle a good recovery period, before preparing for a home Commonwealth Games in 2018.”

Chalmers was a surprise champion in Rio, becoming the youngest man to win an Olympic swimming gold medal since countryman Ian Thorpe at Sydney 2000. Thorpe penned a letter to Chalmers as part of a team bonding exercise before Rio.

Chalmers played Australian rules football up until 2015, stopping after he broke his wrist and tore ankle ligaments during a game. In 2016, he finished second to veteran Cameron McEvoy at the Australian Olympic Trials before winning the Olympic 100m free title by two tenths of a second.

He also earned two relay bronze medals in Rio.

Chalmers is the latest Australian star to bow out of worlds, joining women’s 100m free world-record holder Cate Campbell, Rio Olympic 200m butterfly silver medalist Madeline Groves and veteran Olympians James MagnussenThomas Fraser-Holmes and Belinda Hocking.

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