Kaylee McKeown Crushes 2:05.83 200 Back Lifetime Best To Take Over World #1


18-year-old Kaylee McKeown already made a statement at these 2020 South Australia State Championships with a lifetime best time of 58.52 in the women’s 100m back. That performance on day 2 marked her first occasion ever under the 59-second threshold in the sprint.

But the Sunshine Coast athlete was far from finished, as McKeown logged another career quickest outing on day 3, this time in the 200m backstroke distance. The teen produced a monster 2:05.83 to take gold at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre, as well as now rank among the sport’s greats.

Composed of splits of 1:02.06/1:03.77, McKeown’s 2:05.83 effort marks the first time the teen has ever been under 2:06 in the event. Entering these Championships, the younger sister of Olympic finalist Taylor McKeown’s lifetime best rested at the 2:06.26 put up at the 2019 FINA Aquatic World Championships.

There in Gwangju, McKeown’s 2:06.26 included splits of 1:01.36/1:04.90 to give her the silver behind American Regan Smith. Smith snagged gold in the world’s 2nd fastest performance of all-time of 2:03.69. Smith had earlier taken down Missy Franklin’s World Record in the semi-finals, establishing the new standard at an other-worldly 2:03.35.

Speaking of Smith, the 17-year-old phenom also nailed a 2:05 time this week, hitting a mark of 2:05.94 at the Pro Swim Series in Knoxville. That checked-in with a new meet series record and, briefly, set the world rankings standard for the 2019/20 season.

With McKeown’s menacing 2:05.83, the teen from down under now takes over the world rankings top spot early on this year.


  1. Kaylee McKeown (AUS) – 2:05.83
  2. Regan Smith (USA)- 2:05.94, 1/19/2020
  3. Rio Shirai (JPN)- 2:07.87, 9/6/2019
  4. Isabelle Stadden (USA)- 2:08.16, 11/8/2019
  5. Taylor Ruck (CAN)- 2:08.21, 10/13/2019

Although Smith’s 2:03.35 World Record clearly puts the American in a league of her own, McKeown’s massive time drop at this January meet shows she is anything but backing down heading into the 2020 Olympic Games.

Her PB now makes McKeown the 2nd fastest Aussie of all-time, positioned only behind national record holder Emily Seebohm. Seebohm owns the Aussie NR at 2:05.61, a result she produced in 2017.

McKeown becomes just the 2nd woman from her nation to ever dip under the 2:06 threshold, making the Olympic hopeful the 7th fastest 200m backstroke performer in history.

All-Time Women’s 200m Backstroke Performers

Rank Time Name Nation Competition Date
1 2:03.35 Regan Smith USA 2019 World Champs 7/26/2019
2 2:04.06 Missy Franklin USA 2012 Olympic Games 7/28/2012
3 2:04.81 Kirsty Coventry ZIM 2009 World Champs 8/1/2009
4 2:04.94 Anastasia Fesikova RUS 2009 World Champs 8/1/2009
5 2:05.68 Emily Seebohm AUS 7/29/2017
6 2:05.72 Margherita Panziera ITA 2019 Italian Champs 4/2/2019
7 2:05.83 Kaylee McKeown AUS 2020 South Aussie States 1/20/2020
8 2:05.85 Katinka Hosszu HUN 7/29/2017

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1 year ago

Brilliant swimming. I’ve been waiting for female backstrokers to move to another level. Historically, womens 100bk & mens 100br have traded which record is faster on and off – Unless Peaty is *that* freakish, history would suggest we’ll see a woman well in to the 56s in the coming decade.

Reply to  Dee
1 year ago

I think Peaty is that freakish. I think we should get 57 low, maybe 56 high, but I don’t think Smith (who seems most likely) will be much faster than that. I hope this comment looks dumb come August, however.

1 year ago

Amazing. The women’s backstroke events will be exciting to watch in Tokyo. 🔥

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  BairnOwl
1 year ago


Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
1 year ago

How can be exciting the race of swimmers who have 2.5 sec difference in personal best at 200 distance? Unless you expect Regan Smith to fail a la Cate Campbell in Rio.

Reply to  Yozhik
11 months ago

LOL right, nobody is capable of dropping time, especially not the multitude of teenagers who could potentially be in that final.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Yozhik
11 months ago

You must be new in swimming.

Reply to  Texas Tap Water
11 months ago

You as many others just didn’t get used to the notion of how outstanding Regan Smith is. You still measure her talent by the scale where 58 in 100 and 2:05 in 200 are great swims for her. She was practicing at this meet.
Same was with Katie Ledecky. Only two years after London and 4 world records the general public and experts like you finally accepted the fact that she is a real deal.

Reply to  Yozhik
11 months ago

No one is doubting Regan Smith’s ability, they are only doubting your ability to read McKeown’s potential improvement, both Smith & Mckeown swam 2.05s in January of the Olympic year, who knows where they will be in July/August later this, but the potential is there for a very good race. Smith is huge favourite & huge talent & has a couple of 2.03s already in her, can McKeown get there, no one knows, but a 2.05 in January for a teenager shows lots of potential.

Reply to  Robbos
11 months ago

Well, I didn’t follow Mckeown that closely to be able to estimate her performance in Tokyo. Can you? Or it is just your hopeful expectations of huge jump. Expectations that is the fuel that sport fan are living on. Good luck to you with that.
Yes, Regan Smith has never been even under 2:06 before breaking world record with 2:03. So why not to expect the same from Mckeeown? Right?
The particular race can be close because there can be many factors that affect it. But as of today I don’t see your girl to be even close to Smith in her abilities.

Reply to  Yozhik
11 months ago

I’m sorry you don’t understand, no one is doubting Smith’s ability, she might even swim 2.01, who knows. However, you don’t have follow McKeown too closely, she was silver medalist behind Smith in the 200 back at WC, so straight away she is a contender, maybe not time, but to her as a swimmer. Mckeown, still a teenager, throws down a 2.05 in January of Olympic year (a PB), she is going to be swimming fast come July, this year.
Now is that fast enough to get close to Smith, I did not say that, but just backing what others are saying, it may NOW be an interesting race as McKeown has shown potential to challenge Smith.

Stan Crump
Reply to  BairnOwl
1 year ago

I think the trials women’s backstroke races are going to be in the “do not miss!” category. Talent, younger vs. older, swimmers who are tough mentally; it has it all!

1 year ago

Keep chipping away Kaylee . Really excited for the next few years .

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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