Kaylee turns on turbos to win first world title

Published 12:00pm 27 June 2022

Kaylee turns on turbos to win first world title
Words by Nick Crockford

Kaylee McKeown, the Redcliffe-born former Caboolture resident, is heading home from the 2022 FINA World Swimming Championships with another swag of medals.

The triple Tokyo Olympic champion, who trained at Burpengary, won her first world title in Budapest, Hungary, at the weekend - to go with three silver medals.

McKeown struck gold (above, picture Delly Carr) in her pet event the 200m backstroke, despite turning at 150m behind American Phoebe Bacon by one third of a second.

'Challenged myself'

However, the former student at St Paul’s Lutheran Primary School in Caboolture, produced her trademark fast finish to win by .04 of a second in 2 minutes 5.08 seconds.

“I knew the Americans were going to be there every step of the way, so I knew I had to really pick it up in that last hundred,” McKeown said.

“I’ve challenged myself recently both in and out of the pool which has been the best thing for my career and I’m excited to see now where this next two years takes me.

Kaylee turns on turbos to win first world title
Kaylee McKeown, second left, with Mollie O’Callaghan (St Peters Western), Jenna Strauch (Miami) and Brianna Throssell (USC Spartans) after winning silver in the women's 4x100m medley relay. Picture Delly Carr

Spectacular

“To come away with a gold medal is pretty spectacular.

“I wasn’t expecting this at the at the start of the year. To finish with two podium individual swims is amazing and a real testament to (new coach) Michael Bohl.”

McKeown, who trained at USC Spartans on the Sunshine Coast before moving to Griffith University six months ago, started with a silver on day two.

Shoulder injury

The 20-year-old was second in the 200m individual medley behind American Alexandra Walsh, clocking 2:08.57 - the fourth fastest in history by an Australian.

“At the start of this year I wasn’t even sure if I would be doing worlds or Commonwealth Games because of my shoulder injury,” McKeown said.

“I wasn’t really expecting to come up and podium. It was more just getting the international experience.

Kaylee turns on turbos to win first world title
Kaylee McKeown. Picture Delly Carr

Podium pride

“I’m really proud I have managed to get here and gather the momentum to get on the podium in my first event.”

McKeown also did the opening leg of the women’s 4x100m medley relay in 58.77 seconds helping Australia to silver, just .47 of a second behind America.

She said it was an “awesome team” that collected Australia’s 12th successive world championship medal in this event.

Super start

McKeown's fourth medal – and third silver – came in the mixed 4x100m medley relay with Zac Stubblety-Cook (Chandler), Matt Temple (Marion) and Shayna Jack (St Peters Western).

The ex-Australian Crawl swimmer at Burpengary gave Australia a superb start en route to silver, which was one better than her bronze in this event at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

In her fifth event, the 50m backstroke, a remarkable finish saw McKeown touch .16 of a second behind the winner, but in fifth place.

Kaylee turns on turbos to win first world title
Kaylee McKeown, right, with Zac Stubblety-Cook (Chandler), Matt Temple (Marion) and Shayna Jack (St Peters Western) after winning silver in the mixed 4x100m medley relay. Picture Delly Carr

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