Kaylee McKeown makes swimming history in never-before-seen feat at world champs

The Aussie superstar is the undisputed backstroke queen after a stunning slice of history at the world championships.

Kaylee McKeown at the swimming world championships.
Kaylee McKeown won gold in the 100m backstroke at the swimming world championships. Image: Getty/Channel 9

Kaylee McKeown has become the first woman in history to simultaneously hold the 100m backstroke titles at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, world championships and short course world championships. The Aussie star achieved the feat on Tuesday night after winning gold in the event at the world championships in Fukuoka.

McKeown was just 0.08 seconds away from breaking her own world record, coming home strong to take the gold over Regan Smith of America. It marked a brilliant triumph for the 22-year-old after she was rocked by a 'completely unfair' disqualification in the 200m individual medley.

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"I was very, very nervous heading in, probably moreso than I have ever been," McKeown said. "It was just to real testament myself dealing with what I have over the past few hours.

"Nerves just mean that you care about what you're doing. When you train so hard for something, you just want it to all come together at the right moment."

McKeown touched the wall in 57.53 seconds, just marginally outside her world record of 57.45 set in Adelaide in 2021. "I'm sure there's been worse I've had to deal with, but it's definitely something I've learnt from, just not to take it so emotionally and just forget about it really," she said of her controversial disqualification from Sunday night.

"It was going to be 50-50 between the Americans and I. So it was really good coming back on that last 50 ... I dug deep and gave it everything I could."

Kaylee McKeown with her gold medal.
Kaylee McKeown poses with her gold medal at the swimming world championships. (Photo by YUICHI YAMAZAKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Aussie swimming legend Ian Thorpe commended McKeown's brilliant response to the drama. "It was unique circumstances coming off what was a disappointing disqualification," he said on Channel 9. "Two days after that being able to create a performance like this it shows the grit and determination that Kaylee McKeown has. She takes that with her and she owns that. It was down to the last 15 metres."

Commentator Mat Thompson said: “She is the greatest we have seen. And she is the undisputed backstroke champion of the world. What a special athlete. That is as good as anything as we have seen.

“There is no nothing she has not won in the 100 and 200 backstroke and she writes her name in history. And maybe she is the greatest we have ever seen. No one has ever done this. No one has ever won every backstroke title available and she has done it at the same time. It is simultaneous.”

Swimming fans and commentators were also left in awe at McKeown's historic feat.

Aussies eyeing 200m freestyle gold at world champs

Also Tuesday night, Aussie pair Ariarne Titmus and Mollie O'Callaghan booked their berths in the women's 200m freestyle final. Titmus, who took back her 400m freestyle world record on Sunday night, secured lane four in the medal race by clocking one minute, 54.64 seconds in the semis.

"I just had to do the job tonight, get through, try to get the middle lane," Titmus said. "I did what I had to do, and happy with it.

"I just think it's a nicer feeling being in the middle when you're racing, you can see what is going on more. I just had to try and practice a few things that I want to do (Wednesday night), try and conserve as much as I could and get the job done as easy as possible. And I feel like I did that."

Summer McIntosh (1:54.67) was second-quickest into the final with 1:54.67. The Canadian teenager lost her 400m freestyle world record to Titmus on Sunday night. And Titmus' teammate Mollie O'Callaghan (1:54.91) was third-fastest into the medal race, with the trio set to challenge the longest-standing world record in women's swimming.

O'Callaghan owns the fastest time in the event this year after her 1:53.83 in June. Titmus posted the second-quickest time ever (1:53.09 in 2021), with the world record being Federica Pellegrini's 1:52.98 set in the supersuit era in 2009.

with AAP

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