AUSTRALIAN TRIALS, Day 2 Finals: Kaylee McKeown ‘Disappointed’ After Missing 100m Backstroke World Record By 0.08; “Mollie” O Back In Business

CHASING A GOLDEN DOUBLE: Kaylee McKeown congratulates Mollie O'Callaghan after the women's 100m backstroke at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade's Photos).

AUSTRALIAN TRIALS, Day 2 Finals: Kaylee McKeown ‘Disappointed’ After Missing 100m Backstroke World Record By 0.08; “Mollie” O Back In Business

Kaylee McKeown has tonight locked in a date with destiny in Paris in July after scaring the daylights out of her own 100m backstroke world record on night two of the Australian Trials in Brisbane – and she wasn’t altogether happy.

The 22-year-old from the Gold Coast was just 0.08 seconds outside her own world record of 57.33 set at the Budapest World Cup meet last October – stopping the clock in 57.41 – the second fastest time ever swum.

And there is little doubt McKeown had again set herself to swim her personal best – under that world record – judging by her reaction on pool deck – which could spell trouble for her opponents in Paris.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Mollie O’Callaghan and Kaylee McKeown after women’s 100bk AUS OLY TRIALS 24 Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos)

“I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit disappointed with that (swim) but (I guess) there is always room for improvement,” said McKeown, who has already qualified for the 200IM and has the 200m backstroke to come.

And McKeown (Griffith University, QLD; Coach: Michael Bohl) had company in the form of one of her best friends, freestyle world champion and world record holder, fellow Queenslander Mollie O’Callaghan and WA’s rising star and world junior champion, Iona Anderson.

Mollie O (St Peters Western, QLD; Coach: Dean Boxall) becoming the fourth swimmer in history to break 58 seconds for 100m backstroke – clocking 57.88 (third fastest time in the world for 2023-24) while Anderson (Breakers, WA; Coach Ben Higson) showed why she is a star on the rise, clocking her pb of 58.43 which ranks her sixth in the world.

And McKeown (Griffith University, QLD; Coach: Michael Bohl) joins fellow Tokyo gold medallist Ariarne Titmus (400m freestyle) as the second Australian with the opportunity to defend their Olympic crowns – and join Dawn Fraser as the only previous Australian female to defend Olympic gold.

Fraser, who is poolside mentoring the Paris-bound Dolphins, twice defended her 100m freestyle titles – becoming the first swimmer to win three successive gold medals in the 100m freestyle in 1956, 1960 and 1964.

McKeown rocketed off the start and pushed hard down the first lap – turning 0.15secs faster than her world record split from Budapest, before the world’s best female backstroker continued to power home and joined by O’Callaghan and Anderson in an epic finish.

The time by McKeown was an Australian All-Comers record – the fastest time ever swum in Australia -quicker than her 2021 Tokyo Trials time which was a new world record leading into the Games.

STRAIGHT BACK: World champion freestyler Mollie O’Callaghan wasted no time finding her backstroke mojo at the Australian Olympic Trials. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos)

Mollie O’s time not only makes her the fourth fastest ever but also the second fastest Australian, going past 32-year-old four-time Olympian Emily Seebohm (St Margaret’s QLD; Coach Matt Brown) who was seventh in tonight’s final in 1:01.14 – nine months after giving birth to son Samson.

Anderson, just 18, also swam an Olympic qualifier – and she becomes the fourth fastest Australian while Hannah Fredericks St Peters Western, QLD; Coach: Dean Boxall) fourth in a personal best of 59.44 becomes the fifth fastest – also putting her in the top 16 in the world.

O’Callaghan, who had started her career as a backstroker before emerging as world’s fastest 200m freestyler and one of the fastest ever 100m freestylers, admitted “that really hurt to be honest.”

“To touch in 57.88 is just amazing. I was not expecting that…but I’m really happy with the result; I am definitely excited,” said O’Callaghan.

“There is definitely more to come this week; I am definitely nervous for it but what a great way to start off (the meet).”

Asked whether the backstroke would remain on her schedule for Paris, O’Callaghan said “We’ll have to wait and see.  I have the rest of the meet to go so hopefully I will qualify for another two individuals…so we’ll go from there.”

Meanwhile Miami QLD’s Tokyo Olympian Jenna Strauch (Coach: Richard Scarce)  has continued her 2023-24 breaststroke domination – finding a way to win tonight’s 100m breaststroke after rising star Sienna Toohey (Albury, NSW; Coach Wayne Gould) almost caused a major boilover.

Strauch, 27, trailed Toohey at the turn and in a blanket finish, stormed home in 1:06.90 to out-touch last night’s 200IM qualifier Ella Ramsay (Chandler, QLD; Coach Vince Raleigh) 1:06.94 with the find of the season Toohey third home in a personal best of 1:07.01 – just 0.11 between the top three.

Although outside the qualifying time, Strauch, who has her pet 200m breaststroke still to come, has put herself in contention for a relay berth as has Ramsay, who still has her two best events to come – the 200m breaststroke and 400IM.

For Toohey it is a major milestone – breaking Olympic champion Leisel Jones’long-standing 15 years 100m breaststroke Australian Age record of 1:07.49 – set in 2000, standing for 24 years.

Toohey wasn’t going to die wondering either – taking the race out in the first 50m in a smoking 31.01 – and taking the race to her older opponents – who surged through in the closing stages – Toohey hanging on bravely to announce herself a true emerging star on her biggest ever stage – the Olympic Trials live on National television.

Toohey will be 19 when the LA Games come around in 2028 and 23 when the big show comes to Brisbane in 2032.

LAUNCH PAD TO PARIS: Kaylee McKeown nails her start.  Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos).


WRISTY BUSINESS: Mollie O’Callaghan and her rings of confidence in the women’s 100m backstroke. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos).


MIAMI SLICE: Jenna Strauch shows the style that has made her Austrealia’s No 1 breaststroker. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos)


ELLA-VA SWIM: Chandler’s Ella Ramsay – one of the breakthrough stars of the 2024 Trials.  Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos)


PUTTING ALBURY ON THE MAP: NSW regional country 15-year-old Sienna Toohey gave the 100m breaststroke a real fright. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos)







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1 month ago

Dawn Fraser would have won Olympic Gold in 1968 too except Australian swimming bureaucrats banned her over a farcical misdemeanour. Her times at that stage were still faster than the American who won the event.

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