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McKeown drops 200m medley to focus on backstroke

by ZwemZa on July 22nd, 2021

Kaylee McKeown of Australia competes in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley during the 2017 Australian Swimming Championships at the Sleeman Sports Complex in April in Brisbane.
Quinn Rooney

Australian swim sensation Kaylee McKeown has dropped the 200m individual medley at the Tokyo Olympics to focus on the backstroke and potential world records, team officials said Thursday.

The 20-year-old, who smashed American Regan Smith’s 100m backstroke record last month, boasts the fastest medley time this year and was a hot gold medal favourite.

But after months of deliberation, and with finals being held in the morning, McKeown and her coach Chris Mooney concluded it would be too much for her.

“We feel the conflict from the heat of the medley with the final of the 100 back the next day could be a challenge for her so we’ve made that decision,” said Australian head coach Rohan Taylor.

“You’ve got a rookie coming into the Olympics, it’s a new experience for her and it is a big call. They’ve gone through it for months thinking about it.”

Her shock withdrawal opens the door to Americans Madisyn Cox and Alex Walsh, who were shaping as her major medal threats.

Instead McKeown will focus on the 100m and 200m backstroke, two events where world records could fall, and the 4x100m mixed relay.

She threw down the Olympic gauntlet to Smith by shattering her 100m mark at the Australian trials last month, touching in 57.45sec.

McKeown has also clocked the year’s fastest 200m backstroke time, but in a major upset Smith failed to qualify despite being the world record holder.

Instead, Rhyan White and Phoebe Bacon will be tasked with trying to stop McKeown, who has swum significantly faster than both this year.


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