'This is bonkers': Swimming world erupts over 'insane' Olympics drama

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·Sports Editor
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Kaylee McKeown, pictured here after breaking the Olympic record in the 100m backstroke.
Kaylee McKeown broke the Olympic record in the 100m backstroke. Image: Channel 7/Getty

The swimming world was left stunned at the Olympics on Sunday night when the Olympic record in the women's 100m backstroke was broken in three-straight heats.

In the end it was Australia's Kaylee McKeown who finished with the record in extraordinary scenes in Tokyo.

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The current world record holder has two main rivals in the event - Canada's reigning world champion Kylie Masse and American Regan Smith.

Masse was first to break the Olympic record in her heat, but minutes later Smith bettered it.

But the 20-year-old McKeown, showing nerves of steel on Olympic debut, eclipsed them both with a fresh Games benchmark of 57.88 seconds - just 0.43 from her world record.

McKeown's 29-year-old teammate Emily Seebohm marked her fourth Olympics with a 58.86 to be fifth quickest into Monday's semi-finals.

Seebohm had previously held the Olympic record with a time of 58.23, set in 2012.

The swimming world was left in disbelief over the crazy scenes as the record fell three times within the hour.

"Another Olympic record. This is bonkers," tweeted Canadian reporter Devin Heroux.

"This backstroke final is going to brilliant."

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Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky set up final showdown

Meanwhile, Ariarne Titmus booked the duel of the pool at the Tokyo Games - a 400m freestyle showdown with American great Katie Ledecky.

Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion rated the best female swimmer ever, was quickest into Monday's mouth-watering 400m freestyle final.

But Titmus eased to victory in her heat - and was still third fastest behind Ledecky and China's Bingjie Li.

In the men's 200m freestyle, Australia's Thomas Neill won his heat and was eighth fastest into the semi-finals but Elijah Winnington struggled again, finishing seventh.

Kaylee McKeown, pictured here after the 100m backstroke heats at the Tokyo Olympics.
Kaylee McKeown looks on after the 100m backstroke heats at the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Winnington also placed seventh earlier Sunday in the 400m freestyle final.

Stalwart Mitch Larkin produced a solid heat swim to be fourth fastest into the 100m backstroke semi-finals with teammate Isaac Cooper through in 13th spot.

And Chelsea Hodges advanced to 200m breaststroke semis but teammate Jess Hansen didn't progres from the heats.

Australia's men's 4x100m freestyle relay team qualified third fastest behind Italy and the United States for Monday's final, capping a successful day at the pool.

with AAP

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