Kaylee McKeown's massive Olympic statement as Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson shine

The big guns of Australian swimming were out in force at the Victorian state championships.

Kaylee McKeown, Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson.
Kaylee McKeown, Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson all shone at the Victorian swimming championships. Image: Getty

Some of the biggest names in Australian swimming have returned to the pool with a bang after missing the recent world championships, with Kaylee McKeown, Emma McKeon, Lani Pallister and Cody Simpson shining at the Victorian state championships over the weekend. Australia sent a severely-weakened team to the world championships in Doha earlier this month, with many top swimmers from around the world unwilling to travel to the meet so close to the Olympics.

With the world titles taking place in the same year as the Olympics for the first time ever, the majority opted to stay home and focus on their training instead. McKeown, McKeon, Pallister and Simpson all skipped the world championships, but returned for the state champs in Victoria last weekend.

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And they showed why Australia will be a forced to be reckoned with at the Paris Games in July. McKeon won the 100m freestyle and also produced a personal best time in the 50m butterfly, ahead of her 100m freestyle defence in Paris.

McKeon is aiming to become just the second woman in swimming history (with Dawn Fraser) to defend the 100m freestyle title at the Olympics, and clocked a time over the weekend that would have seen her finish fourth at the world championships. The 29-year-old has had a disrupted preparation due to an arm injury, so the triumph in Victoria would have come as a welcome development.

The five-time Olympic champion also recorded a comfortable victory in the 100m butterfly final, with her second 50 of 30.06 faster than any of the finalists at the world championships. Her overall time would have seen her finish second to Angelina Kohler in Doha. She then cruised to victory in the 50m freestyle final as well.

Lani Pallister.
Lani Pallister was on song at the Victorian swimming championships. (Getty Images)

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McKeown, the Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100m backstroke, produced a world-leading time (for this year) of 58.19 to win the gold in her pet event. The time would have won gold in the event at the world championships.

McKeown also made a surprise appearance in the 400m freestyle, clocking a personal best time and finishing second behind Pallister - whose time of 4:03.03 was just a second outside her own PB. Pallister, who shone at the short course world championships in Melbourne in 2022, is doing everything she can to make her first Olympic team.

Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson.
Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson are in a relationship and hoping to make the Aussie Olympic team together. Image: Getty/Instagram

The 21-year-old also won the 200m and 1500m freestyle titles in Victoria. She will line up in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle events when the Australian Olympic trials kick off from June 10 at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.

Meanwhile, Simpson took another big step towards his dream of making the Olympics by winning the 50m butterfly from Jack Carr and Ashton Brinkworth. The former pop star also finished second to Will Yang in the 100m freestyle final.

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