Olympic gold medallist Kyle Chalmers said recent “negative media attention” had “taken a massive toll” on him as he skipped Australia’s team announcement for the swimming World Championships.
He criticised “made-up storylines” that suggested he had reversed a decision to miss the event in order to prevent pop star Cody Simpson from making the team.
Chalmers’ private life was also the subject of speculation.
The 23-year-old said he had found it “challenging mentally and emotionally”.
“It’s taken a massive toll on me. I need to look after my mental health and get myself right as I prepare for a massive year in the pool,” he said on Instagram.
“The negative media attention surrounding my decision to compete at the worlds and the made-up storylines surrounding my personal life have been more than I can handle.
“After giving my all to the sport and being so welcoming to the media all my career, it’s a shame to see them publish storylines questioning my integrity, all for the sake of extra clicks and money.”
Simpson selected for Commonwealths
Chalmers finished second behind Matt Temple in the 100m butterfly in the Australian trials, with Simpson third.
Only the top two qualify for the World Championships, but Simpson would have been set to go had Chalmers withdrawn.
Chalmers has been named in a 39-strong Australia team for June’s World Championships, which take place in Budapest, Hungary, while both he and Simpson have been selected for the Commonwealth Games team.
“The best thing for me right now is to take a break at home in Port Lincoln, surrounded by my friends and family,” Chalmers said.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my country again, who knows how many more chances I will have to do so… So I am making the most of my opportunities and living out my dreams before it’s all over. I hope I can make you all proud.”
Simpson was a talented junior swimmer prior to pursuing a music career that included a top-10 album in the United States, and returned to the sport in 2019.
The 25-year-old missed out on a place at the Tokyo Olympics last year after finishing eighth in Australia’s trials.
“If you’d have told me two years ago when I had started training in a backyard pool during lockdown that I’d be here today, I don’t know if I’d have believed you,” he said.
On Chalmers, he said: “People like to spin a story and find a story out of something.
“He’s well within his rights to decide to swim.”