The dust is settling from this year’s Commonwealth Games, where the nation of Australia dominated the overall swimming and para-swimming medal table with a haul of 65 pieces of hardware.
Emma McKeon was a strong contributor to that total, with the versatile 28-year-old racking up individual golds in the 50m free and 50m fly, along with a 100m fly silver and 100m free bronze.
Along with relays, McKeon captured 8 medals, making her the most decorated Australian athlete in Commonwealth Games history.
But the packed schedule in Birmingham did not come without a price, as McKeon now speaks to the mental toll her frequent trips to the starting block cost her.
Speaking to media post-Games, McKeon said, “There were so many wonderful parts of the week but yes, there were also difficult parts. I would say it has been a rollercoaster of emotions.
“You try to be stable over the course of a week, as big as it is, but feelings can build up and I let them out.
“You can’t try to be a robot. I’m not a robot. You try to hold yourself together as much as you can, but yeah, there are times when I drop everything and have a good cry.”
McKeon continued, “Not putting too much pressure on myself has been a challenge and it is not easy for me to do.
“I used to be really hard on myself when I wasn’t happy with the times I did or if I didn’t swim the race the way I knew I was capable. Whereas now I get a little annoyed but that’s all. It is more helpful.
“I guess that’s what makes me better for next time. I’m better able to just pick the things I need to improve on and take me from there instead of beating myself up for doing nothing.
With Paris 2024 now on the horizon, fewer than 430 days from now, McKeon says of her Olympic preparation, “It’s square one again on my way to Paris. Not letting myself overdo it with the pressure was a big deal.”