Kaylee McKeown throws down Olympics gauntlet with 'crazy' world record

The Aussie swimmer has sent her Paris Olympics rivals a serious message at the NSW State Championships.

Kaylee McKeown.
Kaylee McKeown set a new world record in the 200m backstroke at the NSW State Championships. (Photo credit should read Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown has sent an ominous message to her rivals ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics, setting an astonishing new world record in the 200m backstroke. The impressive swim at the NSW State Championships means she now holds the world record in both the100m and 200m events.

Thew new benchmark will also be a massive boost ahead of the World Championships later this year, set to be held in Fukuoka, Japan in July. McKeown shaved two tenths of a second off the previous record, recording a time of 2:03:14.

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Speaking with Swimming World, McKeown revealed she had struggled for motivation somewhat in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics, but a bigger portion of time spent training at her home club had proven vital in rediscovering a passion for the sport.

The 21-year-old, who won gold in both the 100 and 200m backstroke at the Tokyo Games, said the meet had actually been running ahead of schedule, leading to a somewhat frantic preparation for what turned out to be a record-breaking swim.

“I found a new love for the sport and it just goes to show that a happy swimmer is a fast swimmer. I haven’t necessarily changed anything in my program or training wise. It’s just that I’m happier," she said. “The race was actually swum 20 minutes earlier than it was scheduled on the time line – I was so rushed… and talking to Mollie (O'Callaghan) I said, ‘What’s going on…?’.

“I actually like sitting in marshalling and kind of gathering my thoughts before my race..but I had no time for that…so I just pulled up my straps and went for it really… but I love racing…. it’s what we train for.

“I knew it was going to be a new level heading into the Olympics and I think it’s great seeing Regan Smith doing all her double ups – it’s scary and its daunting to me looking when you are looking at a competitor or competitors that fierce – even Mollie O’Callaghan in Australia – the backstroke depth is definitely coming back at that top level so it’s exciting.”

Kaylee McKeown continues stunning form after history in 2022

McKeown's latest feat comes just months after she became the first woman in swimming history to hold simultaneously the Olympic, Commonwealth, world long course and world short course titles for the same event after her 200m backstroke triumph at the World Short Course Championships in Melbourne last year.

Aussie Olympic great Grant Hackett is the only other swimmer to achieve the same feat, doing so in the 1500m freestyle. "I had no idea and it's pretty surreal. To be up there with someone like him, it's phenomenal," a humble McKeown said after the race. The historic swim cemented the 21-year-old's status as the Queen of backstroke, an achievement the swimming world was quick to celebrate.

McKeown says she is relishing the prospect of trying to defend her titles at the next Olympic Games in Paris, in 2024. However, the Aussie admits it will be a vastly different mindset going from the hunter, to the one being hunted by her swimming rivals.

Kaylee McKeown holds up a gold medal at the 2022 World Short Course Championships.
Kaylee McKeown last year became the first woman to simultaneously hold the Olympic, Commonwealth Games, world long course and world short corse titles in a single event. (Photo by Giorgio Scala/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

"I was the chaser (before Tokyo) ... and now I have all these girls wanting to chase me," said McKeown, who won three Olympic gold medals last year. "I just have to put myself back in that position and realise, hey, just because I've done this in my career, it doesn't mean it's going to be given to me the next time I step up to do it.

In other notable results from the NSW State Championships, Shayna Jack won the 100m freestyle with a time of 53:12. Isaac Cooper set a new personal best of 24.38 in his way to victory in the 50m backstoke, while Elijah Winnington was untouchable in the 400m freestyle.

with AAP

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