Budapest 2022, Oceania Day 2: So…Was McKeown’s Decision Worth It?

2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

One of the biggest storylines from day 2 of the 2022 FINA World Championships was world record holder and defending Olympic champion Kaylee McKeown‘s withdrawal from the women’s 100 back prelims. This decision was made so that she could focus on the finals of the 200 IM without any other conflicts, as the 100 back semifinals and the 200 IM finals were just minutes apart, only being separated by the men’s 200 free semifinals.

McKeown ended up taking the silver medal in the 200 IM, putting up a time of 2:08.57. And while she had a decent swim, she still lost to Alex Walsh by 1.44 seconds. In addition, she was off her best time of 2:08.19 from the 2021 Australian trials.

Meanwhile, it only took a 1:00.06 to make the 100 back final, a time that McKeown could have effortlessly swam considering that her best time is a 57.45. Keeping this in mind, many suggest she still could have produced the same result in the 200 IM without sacrificing her pet event. Now, she will have to watch from the stands as her backstroke rivals Kylie Masse and Regan Smith battle it out tomorrow night and potentially break her world record (which seems entirety possible, considering that Smith came 0.2 seconds shy of it today).

With Walsh looking unbeatable in the 200 IM for years to come, many question whether McKeown not swimming her best event in exchange for a minor medal was worth it. And while in the moment it might seem like she made the wrong choice, the long-term consequences of her decision might give a different answer.

Think about it. McKeown’s goal for Paris 2024 was to be able to swim both the backstroke and IM events well, and the 200 IM was an event that she’s never swam internationally before. If she wanted to be good at the event, she likely needed the experience of swimming the event at a major meet without any potential distractions, such as a 100 back semifinal. In a shortened Olympic cycle, McKeown has plenty of future opportunities to win 100 back gold, such as the Commonwealth Games and the 2023 World Championships. She could have felt that it was better to sharpen herself in a weaker event rather than to chase a World title in an event that she already has Olympic gold and the world record in.

In addition, focusing on the 200 IM here at Worlds was the only way for her to get experience racing her biggest competition, as both Walsh and Leah Hayes will not be at the Commonwealth Games. By contrast, in the 100 back, she will have another opportunity to race rival Kylie Masse at Commonwealths.

However, some may point to the fact that McKeown will need to practice backstroke/IM double sessions come time for the Olympics, and that avoiding them now could hurt her in the future.

So did McKeown make the right move? It’s hard to say right now, and only time will tell.

Other Day 2 Oceanian Highlights:

  • In the women’s 100 breast prelims, Jenna Strauch set a best time of 1:06.16. And while she ended up not advancing to finals, her prelims time is an indicator that she could potentially produce the 1:05-point split that Australia needs on their medley relay in the absence of Chelsea Hodges.
  • Both Isaac Cooper and Mitch Larkin missed out on the men’s 100 back finals, finishing in 12th and 13th respectively.
  • Zac Stubblety-Cook went a time of 59.65 to finish seventh in the men’s 100 breast. And while he was off his best time of 59.51 from yesterday, it’s a significant improvement from the 1:00.05 he swam in Tokyo last year.
  • Brianna Throssell swam a 56.98 to finish sixth in the women’s 100 fly finals, just o.02 seconds off her best time set yesterday.
  • After winning the 400 free last night, Elijah Winnington advanced to the finals of the men’s 200 free, finishing fifth in semifinals with a time of 1:45.53.

Oceania Medal Table:

Gold Silver Bronze Total
Australia 2 2 4

In This Story

65
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
65 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Susan
1 month ago

I don’t think this meet is as important as the commonwealth games for so many countries, as Fina dropped worlds into the schedule. They are sticking with their plan..Kaylee may not be fully rested. And nothing burns the legs like backstroke..and 20 min rest??..it seems the USA is the only swimming powerhouse to bring all the top guns.

SuperSwimmer 2000
1 month ago

McKeown will be kicking herself when she watches this girl break her WR from the bench.

Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
1 month ago

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Hooked on Chlorine
1 month ago

Damn, I wanted Kaylee to win this. Full credit to Walsh, though, for a great swim.

Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

I thought it was the correct decision but given that decision I thought she would push the backstroke leg more than she did.

Not that it would have mattered anyway. Walsh was fantastic other than the final 10 or 15 meters of freestyle started to look like her final 50 of the 200 freestyle final at trials.

Fobby Binke
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

I thought it was the correct decision but given that decision I thought she would push the backstroke leg more than she did.

The same mistake that Coughlin did in 2008 Beijing. Her backstroke split was slower than Stephanie Rice.

Verram
1 month ago

Is it possible the Aussies didn’t fully taper for worlds in preparation for Comm games in a months time ?

Sub13
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

I don’t think you can apply that label to everyone. I’m sure some of them are fully tapered and all in and I’m sure some of them are not. In Kaylee’s case, it could be either.

Verram
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

I’m expecting those who are not moving forward to the Comm games to be fully tapered such as Jack Cartwright and I think Leah Neale .. having said that, given Zac Incerti’s poor form cartwright might be called to replace him in Birmingham given his 47s split in the relay

Sub13
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

Incerti is sick. Seems unlikely they would pull him out of Comm Games unless it lingers really badly

Verram
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

Well I wouldn’t be surprised if cartwright might swim in 4×200 relay over incerti who’s in 1:49 form atm

Troyy
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

It’ll be a shame to miss Cartwright at Commies now he’s showing signs of his old form.

Sub13
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

Is the team full? Could they add him to the team without removing Incerti anyway? Would be good to have him.

In saying that, the men should comfortably sweep all the relays anyway purely because GB gets broken up.

Fobby Binke
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

Commies have per country quota. and each country decides on per sport quota.

Don’t know if the quota is full.

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  Fobby Binke
1 month ago

the quota is 46 and it’s full

Breezeway
1 month ago

Hey SwimSwam execs, is there a reason my posts keep getting removed from the comments. I’ve noticed that if I criticize a relay decision by Desorbo or disagree with a comment from Rowdy the posts are removed. But other article comments that are ripe with slick political, racial, religious innuendos are never removed. Just asking

Fobby Binke
Reply to  Breezeway
1 month ago

Agreed.

Why is it that #AthletesLivesMatter is not even banned?

It’s so random and just seems like Swimswam favor certain views over others.

Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

I mean, why not roll the dice that way? A mental break if nothing else. It’s not easy being the hunted instead of the hunter. Also, shout out to Mitch Larkin for that 13th place. There was a time when…

Troyy
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

While it’s been evident for a while that Larkin is past his best he was also injured leading into trials.

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming through scoring countless dual meets, being a timer, and keeping track of her teammates' best times for three years as a team manager. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in …

Read More »