Steve Larkin & Steve Lancetic / AAP News
Kyle Chalmers used the lane rope as a bridge over troubled water and issued the silence signal.
The new Commonwealth Games 100m freestyle champion, Chalmers’ message while straddling the rope wasn’t subtle.
Critics, mainly the media, shut up.
“That probably means more than giving a fist pump or a tensing of the muscles,” Chalmers said of his gesture.
“For me, I hope that sends a powerful message.”
Neither was there much subtlety to Chalmers’ victory, one of five Australian gold medals at the Birmingham pool on Monday night.
Emma McKeon collected her fourth gold of the Games, the 12th of her storied career.
Kaylee McKeown won her second gold plus silver, Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay saluted, as did para-swimmer Matthew Levy.
Chalmers, a day after saying he felt like flying home when overwhelmed by media scrutiny, led from start to finish in a display of brute power.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling for me,” he said.
“Instead of enjoying the moment, it’s almost a big sense of relief to be honest with you.
“I just hope no-one has to go through what I have had to go through over the last 48 hours.
“This last 48 hours has been hell. It has been an emotional rollercoaster.
“Even speaking to my coach before the race, I almost started crying and I’m not an emotional person.”
In that 48-hour time span, Chalmers raged at reporting about his relationships with fellow high-profile swimmers Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson.
Chalmers last year dated McKeon before they split. McKeon’s new partner is Simpson.
Chalmers blasted media attention on a supposed love triangle as fake news which made him feel like departing Birmingham and reconsidering his swimming future.
Instead, the South Australian stayed and is now a triple gold medallist in Birmingham following earlier relay wins.
McKeon’s latest gold was her first-ever international medal in the 50m butterfly and her 34-year-old teammate Holly Barratt claimed silver in a dead heat.
“It’s a hard workload physically but it’s training my mind to be able to handle that many races,” she said of her program of eight events.
McKeown is now a dual Birmingham gold medallist after winning the 200m backstroke. Just 20 minutes later, she swam to silver in the 200m individual medley.
“To get up there and do both those events, it’s challenging,” McKeown said.
“I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t scared to do it. I just wanted to race tough.”
Para-swimming stalwart Levy, a 35-year-old five-time Paralympian, captured gold in the 50m freestyle S7.
And the men’s 4x200m relayers – Elijah Winnington, Flynn Southam, Zac Incerti and Mack Horton – underlined Australia’s depth at the pool with the Dolphins’ fifth gold from five relays raced.
Australia’s swim team now has a collection of 16 golds, 11 silver and 12 bronze in Birmingham.