Kaylee McKeown Will Not Swim 400 IM At World Championships

20-year-old Kaylee McKeown lit the pool on fire at the just-concluded Australian Swimming Championships.

The multi-Olympic gold medalist took on a grueling schedule at that World Championships Trials meet in South Australia, racing the 100m back, 200m back, 200m IM and 400m IM events.

But not only did McKeown engage in such a tough lineup of events she crushed times good enough to land atop the podium in each of them.

The Michael Bohltrained athlete took the 100m back in 58.49, the 200m back in 2:05.31, the 200m IM in 2:09.15 and the 400m IM in 4:31.74. The latter event was especially exciting, as it marked a big-time personal best as well as the #2 outing in the world this season.

Immediately after the meet, the question was raised as to whether or not McKeown would take on such a schedule at an international Championships-level meet, such as Worlds in Budapest, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and beyond.

But ‘beyond’ is already where McKeown’s and coach Bohl’s heads are at, as Australian media is reporting that the athlete confirmed she will not contest all 4 events at either Worlds or Commonwealths. Instead, she is reportedly eyeing a 3-event schedule for each meet with relays added on to give her another chance at a massive elite medal haul.

Per Advertiser, ‘she won’t swim the 400m at the world titles, but will take the plunge at the Commonwealth Games because it’s on the first day of competition.’

That means in Birmingham we will most likely see a showdown between McKeown and the #1 400m IM swimmer in the world right now, Canadian teen phenom Summer McIntosh.

The painful quad of events is still on the table for Paris 2024, however.

As far as the toughest part, for the Aussie, “It’s the 400m IM into 100m back,” McKeown said. “I know it‘s a rough double, but I’m looking forward to challenging myself, hopefully making that happen.

“From here now it‘s stepping stones towards Paris… it doesn’t matter what you do. It’s what happens in the Olympic year.” (Advertiser)

Bohl said, “The 200m medley is definitely something that she wants to put on the radar for Paris and I‘d say that’s 100 per cent locked and she’ll be looking at adding that to her repertoire. (Advertiser)

“As for the 400m medley, I‘d say it’s 50-50 call. She can obviously do well in it but it sort of depends on what’s happening on the world scene.”

“If five girls go under 4:30, then you wouldn‘t waste your time doing it but if she’s very competitive in that in the next two years – and two years is a long time – so you never say never,” said Bohl.

The ultimate factor in deciding McKeown’s events will come down to how the swimming schedule is spread out in Paris. The exact day-by-day event outline has not yet been released.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, McKeown would have had the 400m IM final on day 2 with the 100m back final on day 3, noting that Tokyo had morning finals and evening heats.

“You don’t want to get too greedy at the Olympics,” Bohl said.

“It‘s going to be very difficult to swim all the races that she potentially could be swimming and do a great job all the way through because there’s a lot of people moving forward in those events.”

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2 years ago

The 100/200BK, 200/400IM is a tough four event program but I think she should tackle it, especially as the 400IM is the very last of those events. At the 2016 Olympics Michael Phelps won the 200BF and a couple of races later did a low 1.45 split in the 4X200. I don’t see why Kaylee McKeown can’t do the 400IM and later on swim in the medley relay. Granted, Michael Phelps is arguably the greatest swimmer ever But he was 31 at the time. McKeown’s recovery should be better. She’s a world record holder, triple Olympic gold medallist and is highly versatile. Why be conservative after all those achievements? If she doesn’t really test herself at these devalued WC’s, then… Read more »

1 year ago

STRAIGHTBLACKLINE 100% agree with you

2 years ago

Knowing that the choice was between the 2IM and 4IM I’m kind of surprised she went with the 2IM at Worlds (although she does seem to have a preference for it).

The 2IM final clashes with the 100 back semi. Although I guess Kaylee probably isn’t worried about getting top 8 in the semis. But still, it puts 600m of more swimming before she really gets into her signature events.

The 4IM is on the last day, so it wouldn’t interfere with any of her other individual events. It DOES take place just before the medley relay. However, with McKeon and Hodges out, the Aussie girls may not even medal, so if I was Kaylee I would be prioritising a… Read more »

Reply to  jamesjabc
2 years ago

Disagree re W4XMED.

Gold is gone unless US misfire/break/miss the bus to the pool but who’s going to push AUS off the podium ?

CAN does still have McNeill (albeit may not be 100%) but their BRS is still significantly weaker than AUS and its still likely Adv AUS on anchor.

CHN has an “ace” on fly but their bookends, whilst respectable, are still ceding vital ground to AUS & CAN

With Dawson out, GBR are out of the medal equation this year.

SWE are still coming from too far back due to weak backstroke and whilst Sjostrom is a mighty asset; whichever way they choose fly vs free is a “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

Barring an absolutely catastrophic… Read more »

2 years ago

I thought she might take the opposite approach for worlds and commies. With the 4IM being at the tail end of the meet in Budapest, there’s no way it could detract from her other individual swims. Certainly get that 4IM right into the medley relay is rough, but with no McKeon for fly and breaststroke being an issue, I don’t think the relay should be as much of a concern.

Reply to  oxyswim
2 years ago

at the same time, there’s a lot less competition at commies than at worlds in backstroke so she probably has more room to spread events out. Masse is still there in the backstroke (i presume), but no Smith in the 100 and Bacon/White in the 200 should make winning much easier, even after being tired out by the 4IM

Reply to  jeff
2 years ago

Will also be able to cruise the prelims.

Reply to  oxyswim
2 years ago

There is only one event between the women’s 400 meter individual medley and the women’s 4 x 100 medley relay at the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships.


Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Curzan
2 years ago

I saw that, it would be terrible for the relay. My point is this year the relay performance shouldn’t be a big priority at worlds. They’ll have Emma back for fly at commies and they can do better there against a Canadian squad that also lacks a top flight breaststroker.

2 years ago

Is it known what events Summer is swimming at CWGs? The 200 free and 400 IM are an impossible double.

Reply to  Troyy
2 years ago

She may try it tbh. A youngster can bounce back between events easily but I do agree that is a rough double

Reply to  CanSwim13
2 years ago

Even when they’re consecutive events? 😨

Reply to  Troyy
2 years ago

She might drop the 2fly

Coleman Hodges
2 years ago

Roll the tape, I am Sink or Swim master

Reply to  Coleman Hodges
2 years ago

THIS time!!

2 years ago

Crazy to think that the thought process behind swimming the 400 IM, an event that requires technique from all four strokes and one heck of an endurance is that it isn’t about the event itself, but the other events you swim for a versatile high-level athlete like her. Puts into perspective the freaks that Phelps and Lochte amongst other swimmers with big schedules are, they just don’t get tired. Meanwhile, I need a coffee every morning to just wake up for the day.

Reply to  Khachaturian
2 years ago

“…they just don’t get tired “

Don’t be naive, most elite athletes are on the juice. With TUEs, everything is possible.

You won’t touch that podium with hardwork and normal diet ( broccoli, rice, chicken…) .

Alex Dragovich
Reply to  Khachaturian
2 years ago

I’d argue that Lochte got pretty tired, especially in 2012. But it’s inarguably true that McKeown’s & Bohl’s approach to build into her event repertoire is practical and wisely puts the athlete’s physical and psychological health first, especially considering her recent shoulder injury. Imo athletes who consider themselves “multi-event threats,” and their coaches, should use this approach as a blueprint.

Mr Piano
Reply to  Khachaturian
2 years ago

They definitely got tired, but they prioritized medals and gold medals over the possibility of being a couple tenths faster in another event.

Reply to  Khachaturian
2 years ago

There is no hiding from the 400 meter individual medley. You have to put the work in. Which is why Michael Phelps did not swim the men’s 400 meter individual medley at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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