Kaylee McKeown

View Current photo via Courtesy of Jack Spitser

Kaylee McKeown is a competitive swimmer who represents Australia. She is a 3x Olympic champion from the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

2017 Australian National Swimming Championships

McKeown stunned everyone to finish second to Emily Seebohm in the 200m backstroke to earn a spot on the World Championship team alongside sister Taylor McKeown. Surging to the wall on the final 50m, McKeown posted a 2:08.98 to finish under the World Championship qualifying time standard guaranteeing her spot on the team.

2017 World Championships

McKeown fourth in the 200m backstroke, just behind bronze medalist, Kathleen Baker of the US. McKeon’s time of 2:06.76 set a new World Junior Record.

2019 World Championships

McKeown came back at the 2019 world champs to win her first worlds medal, touching for 2nd in the 200 back in a time of 2:06.26.

Late 2020 Queensland Meets

After much of the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Mckeown finally got the chance to get back into the pool and race, which she took full advantage of.

Her first eye-opening meet was the 2020 Queensland Medal Shots meet, where she recorded a 2:04.49, making her the #3 performer in the event all-time behind world record holder Regan Smith and Missy Franklin.

Next was the Queensland Virtual Championships, which were short course. McKeown threw down a slew of PBs, including a world record in the 200 back (1:58.94), a 200 IM that made her the 2nd fastest performer ever (2:03.68), and a best in the 100 back as well (55.68).

She capped the 2020 year at the Queensland Championships (LCM), where she swam the 2nd fastest 100 back ever (57.93), a 4:32.73 in the 400 IM making her the 2nd fastest Aussie ever, an All-Comers record of 2:08.23 in the 200 IM, and a solid 2:05.16 in the 200 back. She also went PBs in the 100 free and 100 breast at this meet.

2020 Swammy Awards

For her stellar performances in Queensland in both scm and lcm, Kaylee earned the 2020 Swammys for Oceania Female Swimmer of the Year and Female Swimmer of the Year.

2021 Australian Olympic Trials

Swimming in the final of the women’s 100 backstroke at the 2021 Australian Olympic Trials, 19-year-old Kaylee McKeown broke the World Record of 57.57 set by Regan Smith at 2019 World Championships in Gwangju. McKeown cracked a 57.45 to take .12 off Smith’s mark. McKeown was out in 28.10 and back in 29.35, beating her previous PB of 57.63 from a month ago in Sydney.

2020 Olympic Games

McKeown started her first Olympics by backing up her world record in the 100 back. She broke the Olympic record out of prelims (57.88) then moved through semis as the 3rd seed into the final. In the final heat, McKeown touched first at 57.47, getting the Olympic record back and notching the 2nd fastest swim ever in the event.

McKeown was back in the 200 backstroke, moving through prelims and semis and swimming a strong race in the final, using her back half speed to pass the field in the last 100 to touch 1st at 2:04.68, making it a clean sweep for Kaylee in the Olympic backstrokes. Later in the session, McKeown anchored Australia’s mixed medley relay, helping the team touch for 3rd and earning a bronze.

McKeown finished her Olympic program with the medley relay, anchoring in 58.01 to help Australia secure gold, earning McKeown her 4th medal of the Games.

2022 World Championships

On day 1 in Budapest, McKeown had a routine schedule, swimming prelims/semis of the 200 IM and qualifying for the fina. On day 2, she turned many more heads when she scratched the 100 back prelims, with Australia head coach Rohan Taylor later saying that she would swim the 100 back at the Commonwealth Games later in the summer and she was focusing on the 200 IM in Budapest. The decision seemed to pay off for McKeown as she earned silver in the 200 IM, clocking a 2:08.57 for 2nd behind American Alex Walsh.

McKeown was back mixed 400 medley relay, where she led off Australia in 58.66 en route to a 2nd place finish, earning silver. In the 200 back final on day 7, Mckeown used a burst in the final 15 meters to pass USA’s Phoebe Bacon to the wall, winning her first world title in 2:05.08.

2022 Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, England)

After scratching out of the 400 IM, McKeown took on the 100 back first. Cruising through prelims and semifinals, she broke Kylie Masse’s 2018 Commonwealth Games record time of 58.63 with a 58.60 to take the gold. Another of Masse’s records fell in the 200 back when McKeown swam a 2:05.60 to bag her second gold. She finished a tough 200 back/200 IM double with a silver in the 200 IM in 2:09.52 behind Summer McIntosh’s World Junior Record. 

Similarly to the 100 back, McKeown cruised through the prelims of the 50 back with a relatively slow swim for her. In the semifinals, Masse cracked the Games Records with a 27.47 while McKeown swam a still impressive 27.75 to qualify third for the finals. In the same session, She led off the Australian 4×100 mixed medley relay team in 59.01 to capture another gold and gain another Games Record.

McKeown maintained seed in the finals of the 50 back, netting a bronze in 27.58 behind another Games Record-breaking swim for Masse. McKeown (58.79) got the better of Masse (59.01) on the lead-off leg in her final event, the 4×100 women’s medley relay. The remaining Australians held off the Canadians and McKeown netted her 4th gold and 6th medal of the meet. 

2022 Duel in the Pool (Sydney, Australia)

McKeown roared to victory in the 100 back, swimming a 58.73, giving Australia some much-needed points. On the third and final night, McKeown won the final round of the 50 backstroke skins bringing Australia to just 2 points off America. McKeown capped off the meet with the women’s 200 mystery IM where she drew free-fly-back-breast. The lead she built with her fast start proved insurmountable as she got to the finish first.

2022 Australian Short Course Championships (Sydney, Australia)

Shortly following Duel in the Pool, McKeown took to the water again at the 2022 Australian Short Course Championships, the qualifier for Australia’s SC Worlds team. There she faced off against Beata Nelson, who also was at Duel in the Pool. Nelson edged McKeown 55.74 to 55.81. McKeown returned with a vengeance the following night, blazing the 5th fastest 200 back ever with a 1:59.48.

2022 FINA Short Course World Championships (Melbourn, Australia)

In a fashion she seems to be becoming known for, McKeown swam a relaxed 57.11 100 back and 2:06.07 200 IM in prelims. She dropped the hammer in finals that night with a bronze medal and new Australia Record of 2:03.57 in the 200 IM. It also makes her the 4th-fastest performer in history, which is actually two spots lower than she was before the day began as both Alex Walsh (2:03.37) and Kate Douglass (2:02.12) touched ahead of her. Just ten minutes later, she punched her ticket to the 100 back final with a 56.35 for 6th position in the semifinal. In the final the following night, she reaped gold with a 55.49.

Despite her gold in the 100 back, McKeown found herself the first woman out when she placed 9th in the 50 back semifinal in 26.09, just .07 behind the tied Julie Jensen and Maaike de Waard. She then lead off the Australian Women’s 4×50 medley relay in prelims but was supplanted by newly-minted 50 back Oceanic Record holder Mollie O’Callaghan in the final. That final relay team took gold while O’Callaghan shave a bit more off her Oceanic Record on her leadoff.

McKeown came back with a vengeance on the final day, taking the 2nd seed in the 200 back prelims behind Claire Curzan. Curzan was no match for her as she powered to a 1:59.26 for gold, beating the field by over a second and nearing her 1:58.94 world record. The 200 back win solidified the 21-year-old Australian as the second woman ever to concurrently hold Olympic, Commonwealth, long-course world, and short-course world titles in the same event. Ariarne Titmus also accomplished the feat in the 400 free. She wrapped up the session and the meet, leading off the Australian Women’s 4×100 medley relay with a 55.74 as the team placed second behind the world record-breaking Americans. 

2023 Victorian Open Long Course Championships (Melbourn, Australia)

Showing off her versatility, McKeown posted a 1:06.86 100 breast and a 54.66 100 free with only a men’s 50 breast between the two, The following day she clocked the 13th fastest time in history in the 100 back with a speedy 57.93. She wrapped up her meet with a solid 1:58.21 200 free, perhaps indicating her intentions to contend for a spot on the Australian 4×200 free relay.

2023 New South Wales State Open Championships (Sydney, Australia)

With very little attention, competition, or perhaps… even rested according to her sister Taylor, McKeown fired off a time of 2:03.14 for gold, beating the field by over 7 seconds. In doing so, McKeown overtook the previous World Record mark of 2:03.35 American Regan Smith put on the books in the semi-final of this event at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju. McKeown’s lifetime best rested at the 2:04.28 national record she produced at the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials to mark her as 3rd fastest all-time.

McKeown kept things rolling with a 57.84 100 back to snatch the world-leading time back from Smith, who had posted a 57.92 earlier in the season. The swim was McKeown’s 4th fastest and the 10th fastest swim ever. In an interview post-race, she said “Regan is an unbelievable athlete and only has room for improvement…. Seeing the times she puts up is nerve-racking….it’s scary and it’s daunting to me looking when you are looking at a competitor or competitors that fierce.”

To close up her already wildly successful meet, McKeown clocked a 27.31 50 back, he second fastest, to rank 1st in the world. Just before the 50 back, McKeown neared another of her lifetime bests with a massive 2:08.27 200 IM, ranking her 2nd in the world.

2023 Australian National Championships (Queensland, Australia)

Olympic gold medalist Kaylee McKeown lowered her own All Comers Record in the women’s 200m IM to kick off her 2023 Australian National Championships campaign. She put up a 2:08.16 to shave .03 off her aforementioned record set in 2021. As now seems to be the norm for McKeown this season, she clocked another sub 58 100 back with a 57.90. The following night, McKeown turned in a quick 2:24.18 to take the 200m breast. The swim made her just the second woman ever sub-2:10 in the 200 back and sub-2:25 in the 200 breast behind Olympic Champion Ye Shiwen. To close out her meet, McKeown posted a 1:56.88 200 free to take 4th and further making clear her 4×200 relay intentions. 

2023 Sydney Open (Sydney, Australia)

McKeown ripped a new career-quickest result of 2:07.19 en route to gold tonight, becoming the world’s 7th fastest woman ever in the process and 2nd fastest in Australia, just inches behind Stephanie Rice’s longstanding Australian Record of 2:07.03. The next night, she crushed a 400 IM result of 4:31.68 en route to claiming gold on day 2 at SOPAC, slicing .07 off her previous career-quickest outing. While not a personal best, on the final night, she threw down her second fastest 200 back ever with a 2:04.18, the 5th fastest time ever swum.

2023 Australian World Championship Trials (Melbourn, Australia)

While slightly off her Sydney Open 200 IM, McKeown easily took first with a 2:07.60. McKeown said post-race, “A relief to gain a qualification on the first night. Always good to blow out those cobwebs on the first race. The next night, McKeown put the world record on watch as she threw down a 57.50, just .05 shy of her own world record. Her closing split of 29.23 was faster than she closed in her world record (29.35) or her Olympic record of 57.47 (29.27). Despite signaling with her lineups at prior meets, 

McKeown decided not to contest the 200 free. Her season and lifetime best of 1:56.88 would have placed 7th in the B final. After her 100 back, all eyes were on McKeown’s 200 back on night 4. While not matching her world record from earlier in her season, her stunning 2:03.70 was still the 4th fastest swim of all-time and faster than anyone but her and Regan Smith.

2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)

McKeown had a relaxed 2:09.50 200 IM in prelims for 2nd. In semis, McKeown was disqualified for going past vertical before touching the wall in her back-to-breast turn. 

In a rare move, Swimming Australia made a public comment disputing a disqualification at the World Championships, calling the decision “unjust” as there were other clear violations not called; specifically, Alex Walsh, the silver medalist in Monday’s final, had an illegal technique in the same turn in the lane right next to her in the semi-final – and was perhaps even more blatantly illegal early in the final. In absence of McKeown in the final, Kate Douglass won in 2:07.17, Walsh was 2nd in 2:07.97, and China’s Yu Yiting was 3rd in 2:08.74.

“I had a bit of a cry,” McKeown said after her 100m backstroke heat swim on Monday in Fukuoka. “A bit of an emotional rollercoaster but it’s sport and it’s what happens in sport. Unfortunately, some people just get the bad hand and I got dealt that bad hand.”

Bouncing back, McKeown cruised to a 58.90 in the 100 back prelims and improved to a 58.48, both for 2nd behind rival Regan Smith. In the final, she flipped 0.05 seconds behind Regan Smith at the 50-meter mark, but then out-split Smith 29.50 to 29.83 on the final 50 to crush a 57.53 and down Smith’s championship record of 57.57 set in 2019. Compared to her world record, McKeown was out 0.07 faster, but her back half was 0.15 slower, but it was still the #4 performance in history.

McKeown was solid in the 50 back semis (27.60 for 4th) and semis (27.26 for 2nd). McKeown made it 2-for-2 in backstroke with her 50 back. Becoming the #3 performer all-time and taking down the Oceanic record, McKeown got the better of Smith by .03 seconds in 27.08.

In the 200, McKeown laid back with a 2:09.30 in prelims. She eased through semis with a 2:07.89. Smith was out about half a second faster than McKeown at the 100 in the 200 back final but McKeown’s strong back half allowed her to dominate the race and take gold in 2:03.85, the #6 time in history. With the win, McKeown completed a historic sweep, winning the 50, 100 and 200 back. She would have been the first to do this of any strok if Qin Haiyang had not done so days before but it still means she is the first women and backstroker to sweep. 

McKeown led off the mixed 400 medley relay in 58.03, the fastest of the women. The team netted silver. McKeown also led off the Aussie 400 medley relay in 57.91, 2nd fastest to Smith’s 57.68. The Aussies ended up with silver and McKeown ended her meet with 5 medals

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Gold 100 Back 2020 Olympic Games
Gold 200 Back 2020 Olympic Games
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2020 Olympic Games
Bronze 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2020 Olympic Games
Silver 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2017 World Championships
Silver 200 Back 2019 World Championships
Silver 400 Medley Relay 2019 World Championships
Gold 200 Back 2022 World Championships
Silver 200 I.M. 2022 World Championships
Silver 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2022 World Championships
Gold 50 Back 2023 World Championships
Gold 100 Back 2023 World Championships
Gold 200 Back 2023 World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2023 World Championships
Silver 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2023 World Championships
Gold 100 Back 2022 Commonwealth Games
Gold 200 Back 2022 Commonwealth Games
Gold 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2022 Commonwealth Games
Silver 200 I.M. 2022 Commonwealth Games
Bronze 50 Back 2022 Commonwealth Games
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2022 Commonwealth Games
Gold 100 Back 2022 Short Course World Championships
Gold 200 Medley Relay 2022 Short Course World Championships
Gold 200 Back 2022 Short Course World Championships
Silver 400 Medley Relay 2022 Short Course World Championships
Bronze 200 I.M. 2022 Short Course World Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 200 Free 1:56.88 04/20/23 Australian National Championships
Queensland, Australia
lcm 50 Back 27.16 05/16/21 2021 Sydney Open
Sydney, Australia
lcm 100 Back 57.45 06/13/21 2021 Australian Olympic Trials
Adelaide, Australia
lcm 200 Back 2:03.14 03/10/23 2023 NEW SOUTH WALES STATE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Adelaide, Australia
lcm 200 IM 2:08.19 06/14/21 2021 Australian Olympic Trials
NSW, Australia
lcm 400 IM 4:32.73 12/13/20 2020 Queensland Championships
Brisbane, Queensland
scm 100 Back 55.49 12/14/22 2022 FINA Short Course World Championships
Brisbane, Queensland
scm 200 Back 1:58.94 11/27/20 2020 Swimming Australia Virtual Champs
Brisbane, Queensland
scm 200 IM 2:03.57 12/13/22 2022 FINA Short Course World Championships
Melbourne, Australia
Kaylee McKeown Emily Seebohm (photo: Jack Spitser) Kaylee McKeown (photo: Jack Spitser) Kaylee McKeown (photo: Jack Spitser) Kaylee McKeown (photo: Jack Spitser) Kaylee McKeown (photo: Jack Spitser) Kaylee McKeown (photo: Jack Spitser) Kaylee McKeown (photo: Jack Spitser)