2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 18-25, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Budapest, Hungary
- Duna Arena
- LCM (50-meter format)
- Full Aquatics Schedule
- How To Watch
- Psych Sheets
- Start Lists Book (pre-meet)
- Meet Central
- Live Results
- SwimSwam Pick ’em Contest
- Day 2 Finals Live Recap
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: