Kaylee McKeown’s golden hat-trick at the Tokyo Olympics is inspiring future generations, says her junior development coach Jodie Morgan.
Redcliffe-born McKeown flies home today from Japan as one of the stars of the most successful swimming team in Australian Olympic history.
After turning 20 at the pre-Games camp in Cairns, she won gold in the 100m and 200m Backstroke, 4x100m Medley Relay and bronze in the Mixed 100m Medley Relay.
Her races gripped the nation and are now motivating youngsters from the Moreton Bay Region, Sunshine Coast and beyond.
“We have the next generation (here) and they are saying so many amazing things,” said Morgan, who coached McKeown at Australian Crawl in Burpengary.
Now junior development coach at the Flinders Aquatic Academy in Buderim, Morgan said: “Girls of 11 and 12 …. they idolise Kaylee.
“I’ve got a swimmer Georgia, a breaststroker, out with a broken wrist. But after watching Kaylee she’s off again and saying this is how long until the cast’s off.
“At the weekend, a girl of seven or eight from another club went up to one of our parents and said: “Excuse me, is Kaylee McKeown from your club?”
“The parent said: “Yes” and the little girl said: “She’s so fast” ... and off she went.
“It was inspiring. Such a young girl wanting to do that and ask about Kaylee. I’ve been getting messages from those I knew at Australian Crawl as well.”
Morgan said Leisel Jones’ mum Rosemary got her "back into the swimming world" with legendary coach Ken Wood at Redcliffe Memorial Pool.
She worked with Wood’s wife Mary and McKeown’s coach Chris Mooney at Australian Crawl Burpengary before going to Flinders Aquatic Academy, which is linked to USC Spartans, where McKeown and Mooney are based.
“Kaylee will be back here,” said Morgan, “she’ll bring her medals in for the kids. She will want to be involved and give back.
“These (Olympic) girls don’t see it as a job. They’ll be telling young kids this is what you can do if you really set your mind to it and work really hard.”
Morgan said she was “exhausted” by the drama and excitement of the last eight days.
“It was almost flawless for Kaylee,” she says, “but I almost expected her to do well having seen what she’s been through every day.
“Watching (the races) never got any easier. Even the last relay. I thought some of the girls looked exhausted … I had my hands over my face and watched through my fingers!
“We just see the races. What we didn’t see were the 1km warm-down sessions, the physio, the massage, refueling (food), all the media, travel, and going again and again.
“I’m in awe of everything they did.”
However, thoughts are already turning to Paris 2024, just three years away and Morgan said she had a “couple of kids who could be there”.
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