Sport Kaylee McKeown adds 200m backstroke to swim trials success

Kaylee McKeown adds 200m backstroke to swim trials success

Kaylee McKeown has overcome a bout of nerves to win the 200m backstroke at the Olympic trials. Photo: AAP
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Kaylee McKeown had the shakes, then gave another world record a shake to cap her stunning Olympic selection trials.

The 19-year-old Australian was on pace for her second world record of the trials in Adelaide on Thursday night in the 200-metre backstroke final.

Five days after setting a world benchmark in the 100-metre backstroke, McKeown faded in the final 15 metres of the 200-metre backstroke but still broke the Commonwealth record.

The 19-year-old clocked two minutes 04.28 seconds – the fourth-fastest swim in the event and a personal best – with stalwart Emily Seebohm finishing second.

McKeown says she was a bundle of nerves pre-race, acknowledging a fresh weight of expectation because of her status as Australia’s latest swimming 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.”

McKeown’s American rival Regan Smith’ holds the world record, 2:03.35, set in 2019.

The Australian said while her pursuit of Smith continued, she now also had a proverbial target on her back after her 100-metre backstroke record.

“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,” she said.

“Once you get to that No.1 spot it’s even harder to stay there.”

Meanwhile, Emma McKeon continued her freestyle dominance, winning the women’s 50-metre freestyle by just 0.01 seconds from Cate Campbell.

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

Cameron McEvoy won the men’s 50-metre freestyle but was outside the Olympic qualifying time, while Ariarne Titmus cruised to victory in the women’s 800-metre freestyle.

And in the men’s 100-metre butterfly final, Matt Temple blitzed a field including pop star Cody Simpson, who finished last.

Simpson only returned to the pool last year, putting his successful American-based musical 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.”

In the last event of the trials, Jack McLoughlin secured a berth in the 1500-metre freestyle at next month’s Tokyo Games by winning in a time about 2.5 seconds inside the qualifying mark.