Australia’s McKeown swims second-fastest 100m backstroke of all time

June 12, 2024
Australia's Kaylee McKeown in action during the women's 4 x 100m medley relay final in Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall A, Fukuoka, Japan on July 30, 2023 .— Reuters

BRISBANE: World record-holder Kaylee McKeown ramped up preparations for the defence of her Olympic 100m backstroke crown with the second-fastest swim of all time on Tuesday.


The 22-year-old blitzed home at the Australian Olympic trials in 57.41secs, just shy of her world-record 57.33 and ahead of Mollie O´Callaghan who became only the fourth swimmer ever to dip below 58. O´Callaghan´s 57.88 in Brisbane was enough to also easily qualify, but she may not swim the event in Paris this summer given her likely heavy freestyle and relay schedule.

Should O´Callaghan opt out, American Regan Smith and Canada´s Kylie Masse are set to once again be McKeown´s main challengers.

“Look I´m not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed with that,” said McKeown of her time. She holds world records in all three backstroke disciplines. “But, you know, there´s always room for improvement. Glad to have another swimmer in the 57-club.”

McKeown has swum nine of the 10 fastest times in history and will return to the pool on Thursday for the 200m backstroke, where she is also the defending Olympic champion.

She is also scheduled to contest the 100m and 200m freestyle, having already booked her ticket to France by clocking the fastest 200m medley since the 2016 Rio Olympics on Monday.

Despite joining McKeown, Smith and Masse in the sub-58 club, O´Callaghan said she had yet to finalise her Olympic plans. “To touch in 57.8 is really amazing, I was not expecting that,” said the 20-year-old, who is the 100m freestyle world record holder.

“I´ll wait and see how the rest of the meet goes. Hopefully I qualify for another two or three individuals and we´ll decide from there.”

Third-placed Iona Anderson was also under the qualifying time and will step up if O´Callaghan drops out.

Rising star Maximillian Giuliani outswum the more-fancied Elijah Winnington and Thomas Neill to book his ticket in the men´s 200m freestyle, hitting the wall in 1:45.83.