Kensey McMahon

Kensey McMahon is an American distance swimmer and two-time NCAA champion. She has won a bronze medal at World Championships and has been a member of multiple US National Teams.

High School Swimming

A Jacksonville, Florida native, McMahon attended Mandarin High School where she had multiple top-three finishes at Florida High School State Championships. In 2017, she committed to swim at the University of Alabama, headed by Dennis Pursley. She joined a loaded class at Alabama including future Olympian Rhyan White and Cyprus record holder Kalia Antoniou.

Junior Swimming Swimming

Competing for the storied Bolles School Sharks club, she shined in distance events; McMahon placed 4th in 2016 and 3rd in 2017 in the girls’ 1650 at Speedo Winter Junior Championships.

Her major breakthrough came in the summer of 2018 when she won junior national titles in the 800 free (8:37.45) and 1500 free (16:32.94) while earning a runner-up finish in the 400 free (4:10.46). She also placed 5th in the 5k at U.S. Open Water Nationals earlier that year. She qualified to represent the United States at the 2018 FINA Open Water World Junior Championships in Eilat, Israel where she placed 6th in the 10k and 2nd as a part of the 4×1250 relay. She was named to the 2018-19 Junior National team for the 400, 800, 1500 free, and open water events thanks to her efforts in the 2017-18 season.

College (Alabama)


McMahon’s college career got off to a bang with wins in the 500 and 1000 free against Delta State, 1000 free against Ohio State, and 1650-yard free against Texas A&M.

She struck again at midseason invites at the Georgia-Tech invite where she hit a 4:45.24 to take 8 seconds off of her lifetime best from one of the prior dual meets. Later in the same meet, she set a new school record in the 1650 free, registering the fifth fastest time in the country this year at 15:59.46.

In a tri-meet against Florida State and Miami, she raced a total of  2,550 yards, taking wins in the 500 free, 1650 free, and 400 IM, giving her 10 total wins during her freshman year. For this, she was given Women’s Freshman of the Week by the SEC. She went on to win bronze in the 1650 free at the 2019 SEC championships (16:00.59).

At NCAA Championships that year, McMahon placed 7th in the 1650 free in 15:53.18, swimming in the early heats, finishing behind Mackenzie Paddington and Sierra Schmidt in her heat. For this and her impressive season, she was awarded Most Outstanding Swimmer by Alabama Swim and Dive alongside Robert Howard.

After the season ended, Dennis Pursley retired and was replaced by Coley Sickles


SwimSawm picked McMahon as the 1650 free winner in the preseason writers’ picks for the 2020 NCAA Championships. She held the top time in the 1000 free heading into invites.

She continued to dominate through the season, earning SEC Women’s Swimmer of the Week after a dominating 40-second win in the 1650 free (16:24.00) and other wins in the 200 free (1:49.25) and 500 free (4:47.31) against Florida State. Only continuing to improve, she took 3rd in the 500 (4:38.66) and 1st in the 1650 free (15:43.74) at the 2020 SEC Championships. She won the 1650 in a dominant fashion by nearly 10 seconds.

The 2020 NCAA Championships were canceled because of COVID-19 but she finished the season with the top 1000 free and 2nd best 1650 free time in the NCAA and made the Scholar All-America team.


In one of her meets since 2020 SECs, McMahon swept the 1000 free (9:50.70), 200 fly (2:00.49), and 500 free (4:49.33) against LSU in November. She continued her strong month when McMahon took 2nd in 500 free in 4:39.84 behind Paige Madden at the 2020 Tennesee Invite. She followed that up with a win and NCAA leading time in the 1650 free with a 15:54.06.

Following invites, Coley Sickels departed from Alabama, leaving associate head coach  Ozzie Quevedo to fill the role until Margo Geer could begin next season.

Despite coaching changes and COVID-19 disruptions, McMahon plowed ahead, earning runner-up behind Kristen Stege of Tennessee in 15:49.22 at SEC Championships. Alabama would go on to place 5th at NCAAs


In her first season under Margo Geer, McMahon looked strong, winning several dual meets. She took wins in the 500 (4:38.76) and 1650 free (15:52.05) at the Tennessee invite. She then turned her eyes to SEC Championships where she took third in the 500 (4:40.22) and second in the 1650 free (15:51.71).

At NCAAs, she took third in the 1650 in 15:47.60, behind Paige McKenna’s 15:40.84 and Erica Sullivan’s 15:45.94 from the early heats. Alabama, with the help of McMahon, finished fourth overall at NCAAs.

In the post-season, McMahon announced she would be taking a 5th year of eligibility as provided by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 Pandemic to compete for Alamaba for a final season. She joined a large number of Alabama swimmers taking 5th years, including all of their NCAA scorers.


McMahon made the most of her extra year of eligibility, winning multiple dual meets and being named SEC Women’s Swimmer of the Week two times before midseason invites. To the surprise of some, she posted a 1:56.97 200 fly in a dual meet against LSU.

At SEC Championships, McMahon placed 5th in the 500 free in 4:40.03. Later in the meet, she took on two-time defending champ Kristen Stege and retook the 1650 title in 15:47.02

On the second night of NCAAs, McMahon came into the meet as the 23rd seed in the 500 free and qualified for finals in 6th in a 5:37.81 best time. Using “positive affirmations,” she won her first NCAA title in 4:36.62 after taking the lead around 100 yards into the race. She collected her second title of the meet in her signature event, the 1650 free. She posted a 15:43.84 to wrap up her meet, season, and NCAA career.

National/International Swimming

2019 US Open Water National Championships (Miami, Florida)

McMahon would finish top 10 in both the 5k and 10k at the 2019 US Open Water National Championships.

2019 US National Championships (Palo Alto, California)

Taking 4th in the 800 free with her time from the early heats, McMahon dropped nearly 9 seconds in 8:28.68. Later in the meet, she finished second in the 1500 free with a 16:09.80. These swims put her in contention for US National Team selection.

2020 US Open (Multi-Site)

McMahon took wins in the 400 and 1500 free and 400 IM at the Huntsville location.

2022 US Open Water National Championships (Fort Myers Beach, Florida)

Following a successful NCAAs, McMahon competed at the 2022 US Open Water National Championships. She took 6th in the 5k. For her results, she was named to the open water national team and named to the 2022 World Open Water Championships U.S. Roster.

2022 US National Championships (Irvine, California)

At the 2022 US national championships in Irvine, McMahon placed 3rd in the 400 (4:08.57), 800 (8:31.92), and 1600 free (16:16.22).

2022 Short Corse World Championships (Melbourne, Australia)

McMahon was named to the 2022 Short Corse World Championships roster for the 1500 free. McMahon made the most of her single event at her first World Championships. Swimming in the earlier timed final heats, she beat her entry time by more than 26 seconds in 15:49.15. After the final heat had swum, McMahon ended up with a Bronze medal, her first international medal.

–This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Bronze 1500 Free 2022 Short Course World Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
scy 500 Free 4:36.62 03/16/23 2023 NCAA Division I Women's Championships
Knoxville, TN
scy 1650 Free 15:43.74 02/22/20 2020 SEC Championships
Auburn, AL
lcm 400 Free 4:08.57 07/29/22 2022 U.S. National Championships
Irvine, CA
lcm 800 Free 8:28.68 07/31/19 2019 U.S. National Championships
Stanford, CA
lcm 1500 Free 16:09.90 08/04/19 2019 U.S. National Championships
Stanford, CA