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Kaylee McKeown creates history in 'unbelievable' Aussie swimming feat

Kaylee McKeown has smashed the 50m world record – creating history in the process by securing a rare treble.

Kaylee McKeown pictured breaking 50m world record in Budapest
Kaylee McKeown has broken the 50m backstroke world record at the World Cup swimming meet in Budapest in a time of 26.86 seconds. Image: Getty

Kaylee McKeown has broken the 50m backstroke world record at the World Cup swimming meet in Budapest in a time of 26.86 seconds to bring up an unlikely treble. The 22-year-old became the second female swimmer to dip under the 27-second mark, beating the previous record set by China’s Liu Xiang in 2018 by 0.12 seconds.

McKeown looked genuinely shocked as she looked up at the clock and realised what she had accomplished. After missing the 50m backstroke World Record by 0.04 last week in Athens, she smashed it in the Duna Arena, the site of her first World final in 2017, her first World title in 2022, and her third world record in 2023.

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Australia's golden girl now holds the world records in the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, making her only the second woman to ever hold the world records of a singular stroke at each distance range. South Africa’s Penny Heyns is the only other woman to do it before McKeown, holding the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke records in the 1990s and 2000s. McKeown is also the first Australian to hold the world record in the 50m backstroke since in 2008.

Australia's golden girl now holds the world records in the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, making her only the second woman to ever hold the world records of a singular stroke at each distance range. Image: Getty
Australia's golden girl now holds the world records in the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, making her only the second woman to ever hold the world records of a singular stroke at each distance range. Image: Getty (Xinhua News Agency via Getty Ima)

Speaking after the record-breaking race, McKeown put the world record feat down to pure grit and determination. "I was wondering if I could swim a World Record, I just wanted to get out fast tonight and see what I can do," McKeown said. "The only thing I can keep doing is training hard and keep believing in myself and believing in my coach.

"A 50s a 50, it doesn’t matter what you do you just got to put yourself on the line."

"I love this pool, I do have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it but obviously I love it tonight, especially after that race," she said. "So it’s good to be here, it’s a good atmosphere. Hungarians always have the loudest crowds so it’s really enjoyable."

Kaylee McKeown looking for the three-peat at Paris Olympics

McKeown won gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke in Tokyo and will be favoured to not only do that double at next year’s Paris Olympics but add the 50m gold as well. In this year's world championships, the 22-year-old won all three events, holding off her bitter American rival Regan Smith.

McKeown is currently the world long course and short course champion, Commonwealth Games champion and now the world record holder in all three backstroke events. She is also nominated for World Aquatics Female Swimmer of the Year, along with fellow Aussie Mollie O’Callaghan and Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom.

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