Australia

Kaylee McKeown sets Commonwealth record, Australia announces Olympic swimming squad

Kaylee McKeown has broken the Commonwealth record in the women’s 200 metres backstroke on the final night of Australia’s Olympic trials in Adelaide.

McKeown headlines a 35-member Australian squad which includes Mack Horton despite the reigning Olympic champion missing out on a berth in the men’s 400m freestyle.

Competing four days after setting a world record in the 100m backstroke, McKeown was on pace for her second world mark in Thursday night’s 200m final.

But the 19-year-old faded in the final 15 metres to clock a time of 2:04.28 — the fourth-fastest swim in the event and a personal best — with former world champion Emily Seebohm finishing second.

McKeown said she was a bundle of nerves before the race, acknowledging a fresh weight of expectation because of her status as Australia’s latest world record holder.

“I actually said to [coach Chris] Mooney in warm-up, ‘I think it’s all starting to get to me,'” she said.

“I had the shakes before that race and I don’t usually get that. It’s definitely a learning experience.”

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McKeown’s US rival Regan Smith holds the world record of 2:03.35, which was set in 2019.

“Mooney and I always have this thing where there is someone to chase and I am still chasing down Regan, and there’s a lot of other guys now chasing down me,” McKeown said.

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Ariarne Titmus, who had already won the women’s 200m and 400m freestyle titles, broke the Australian record in the 800m freestyle final, stopping the clock in 8:15.57.

Meanwhile, Emma McKeon continued her freestyle dominance, winning the women’s 50m freestyle final in 23.93, just 0.01 ahead of Cate Campbell.

McKeon also triumphed this week in the 100m and 200m freestyles and 100m butterfly.

Cameron McEvoy won the men’s 50m freestyle but was outside the Olympic qualifying time with his effort of 22.07.

Matt Temple set an Australian record in the men’s 100m butterfly final with a time of 50.45, blitzing a field that included pop star Cody Simpson, who finished last.

Simpson, who swam a time of 52.94 in the final, only returned to the pool last year, putting his successful American-based music career on hold.

“To be in that final, that is my achievement for this year, that is my gold medal at least for 2021,” Simpson said.

“I didn’t expect to be remotely competitive until 2022-23 at the earliest.”

Jack McLoughlin qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by winning the 1,500m freestyle final in 14:52.69.

Horton headed to second Olympics

Horton missed selection for individual swims in the 200m and 400m freestyle, but made the team as a relay squad member.

Selectors also threw an Olympic lifeline to breaststroker Matt Wilson, who was also handed a relay berth.

Wilson finished second behind Zac Stubblety-Cook in the men’s 200m breaststroke, some 0.24 seconds outside the qualifying time specified by Swimming Australia.

He was added to the Tokyo team as a discretionary pick, with selectors saying a family bereavement had disrupted his trial performance and preparation.

Australia’s squad features two swimmers who will compete at their fourth Olympics, Campbell and Seebohm.

The pair join Leisel Jones as the only Australian swimmers to make four Olympic squads.

Mitch Larkin will compete at his third straight Olympics.(

AAP: Dave Hunt

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Three swimmers — Mitch Larkin, Bronte Campbell and McEvoy — will race at their third Olympics.

McKeown is among 21 Olympic debutants on a team featuring 18 men and 17 women.

Only one Australian swimmer, 100m freestyler Kyle Chalmers, will defend an Oympic title.

“This is a strong team,” Swimming Australia’s head coach Rohan Taylor said.

“I’m particularly pleased with the strength of our relays, it shows the fantastic depth in this squad.

“We have a big five weeks ahead of us.

“Now it’s about preparing our athletes for what they’ll experience and get them ready to perform on the biggest stage in the world in Tokyo.”

AAP


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