arena Swim of the Week: Kaylee McKeown Turns Heads With 2:24.18 200 Breast

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Kaylee McKeown had quite the performance this week at the Australian Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast, picking up three victories and lowering her personal best time in three of her four events.

McKeown added yet another sub-58 swim to her resume in the women’s 100 backstroke (57.90), set a new All Comers Record in the 200 IM (2:08.16) and dropped nearly a full second in the 200 freestyle (1:56.88), putting her in contention for a potential spot on Australia’s 800 free relay.

But the swim that really stood out came in the 200 breaststroke, where McKeown shocked the specialists by winning in a time of 2:24.18, three seconds faster than her previous best of 2:27.21 set in January 2021.

Split Comparison

McKeown, 2021 McKeown, 2023
34.47 33.64
1:12.19 (37.72) 1:10.22 (36.58)
1:49.81 (37.62) 1:47.28 (37.06)
2:27.21 (37.40) 2:24.18 (36.90)

The 21-year-old moves up to eighth all-time among Australians in the event, with her older sister, the now-retired Taylor McKeown, notably sitting up at #2.

All-Time Australian Performers, Women’s 200 Breaststroke (LCM)

  1. Leisel Jones, 2:20.54 – 2006
  2. Taylor McKeown, 2:21.45 – 2016
  3. Jenna Strauch, 2:23.04 – 2022
  4. Sally Hunter, 2:23.33 – 2013
  5. Tessa Wallace, 2:23.34 – 2015
  6. Abbey Harkin, 2:23.59 – 2021
  7. Georgia Bohl, 2:23.95 – 2016
  8. Kaylee McKeown, 2:24.18 – 2023
  9. Sarah Katsoulis, 2:24.38 – 2010
  10. Rebecca Brown, 2:24.76 – 1994

“It is just a real fun event for me and it was all about having no nerves and just coming out and giving it a real red hot crack,” McKeown said post-race, according to Swimming Australia.

“And despite swimming under a heavy training load, it just makes it all the more interesting …and looking forward to getting some good rest (before Trials in June) and taper time, so I’m looking forward to that.”

McKeown used her sub-37 final 50 to pull away from Tokyo Olympian Abbey Harkin (2:25.72) for the victory, while Jenna Strauch, the 2022 World Championship silver medalist in the event, was third in 2:25.94.

McKeown has been on fire so far this year, having lowered the world record in the women’s 200 back (2:03.14) at the New South Wales State Open Championships in March while also clocking 57.84 in the 100 back, the 10th-fastest swim in history, and coming within 15 one-hundredths of her National Record in the 50 back (27.31)

Having entered the Aussie Championships as the leader in the world rankings in all three backstroke events while also sitting second in the 200 IM, McKeown also cracked the top 10 this season with her 200 breast performance.

2022-2023 LCM Women 200 Breast

2:17.55 WR
View Top 26»

McKeown, who trains out of Griffith University in Queensland, also joined an exclusive club by becoming just the second female swimmer sub-2:10 in the 200 back and sub-2:25 in the 200 back, joining China’s Ye Shiwen.

As McKeown intimated, the 200 breast won’t be a part of her program at major international competitions, but it does indicate she’s got more in the tank in the medley events.

The 2022 World Championship silver medalist in the 200 IM, McKeown should be able to comfortably split 36-mid on the breaststroke leg of that race (she’s been 37.3 in her two 2:08.1 swims), which could push her closer to the likes of Summer McIntoshAlex Walsh and Kate Douglass should she race it at the World Championships.

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11 months ago

Overrated swim of the week

Reply to  Vinay
11 months ago

Yeh, she is not even the fastest in her family!

11 months ago

Congrats to Kaylee! I must say, quite unfortunate timing though lol

Reply to  BigBoiJohnson
11 months ago

LOL! I was just coming here to say that.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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