Dolfin Swim of the Week: McKeown’s World Record 1:58.94 in 200 BK

Disclaimer: Dolfin 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  Dolfin Swim 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.

Australian 19-year-old Kaylee McKeown shattered the short course 200-meter backstroke world record last week in Australia’s Virtual Championships.

In a pandemic-adjusted year, Swimming Australia split its national championships between multiple sites. McKeown navigated the weirdest of all weird years in the best way possible. She smashed a world record swimming at the Brisbane location of the virtual championships.

McKeown went 1:58.94. That takes three-tenths of a second off a world record of 1:59.23 held by Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu since 2014.

Maybe most impressive: McKeown was actually trailing the world record pace at every split until the final 50 meters. It takes some special closing speed to effectively run down the legendary Iron Lady in the closing meters. Here’s a quick splits comparison:

McKeown 2020 Hosszu 2014
1st 50 28.4 28.17
2nd 50 30.19 / 58.59 30.19 / 58.36
3rd 50 30.41 / 1:29.00 30.41 / 1:28.77
4th 50 29.94 / 1:58.94 30.46 / 1:59.23

McKeown now gives Australia control over both the 100 and 200 back world records in short course meters. Fellow rising star Minna Atherton set the 100 back record last fall, and Australia now has an elite and fast-rising backstroke group to challenge a similar group rising in the United States.


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9 months ago

Brilliant swim. Dedicated to her late Dad .

Coach Mike 1952
9 months ago

“Oz” is producing some pretty good ladies in backstroke! Congratulations Kaylee.

9 months ago

Typo alert: Hosszu’s 100m split should be 58.36, not 59.36. Does any video exist of this performance?

9 months ago

Wow Australia has some great swimmers

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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