Top-Ranked Kaylee McKeown Drops 200 IM From Olympic Schedule

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2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Just two days away from the start of swimming action at these 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and we have a huge individual event withdrawal on the women’s side.

Australia’s Head Coach Rohan Taylor confirmed to SwimSwam today that top-seeded Kaylee McKeown of Australia has decided to drop the 200m IM event. The 20-year-old will instead focus on the 100m and 200m backstroke races, as well as the medley relay here in Tokyo.

McKeown was entering these Games as the #1 swimmer in the world this season in the 200m IM event with a lifetime best of 2:08.19. That performance was rendered at the Australian Olympic Trials last month in South Australia and her time was so big it set an All Comers Record as a result (the equivalent to a U.S. Open Record). Her PB also checked her in as the 8th fastest performer in history in the event.

USC Spartan McKeown, trained by coach Chris Mooney, was set to be the second seed behind Hungarian world record holder Katinka Hosszu in the 200m IM, with Hosszu owning the fastest time of the Olympic qualification period of 2:07.02 from two years ago.

In the backstroke events, McKeown owns the world record in the 100m back in 57.45 from just this year and also owns the top seed in the 200m back in 2:04.28.

McKeown was among the Australian athletes whose massive schedule we highlighted just a few days ago, with the Aussie set to attack a robust lineup of back-to-back racing in Tokyo. Her original lineup of races is included below, with her 200 IM now crossed off to show the breathing room it allows her.

Instead of doubling up on the 100m back semi-final and 200m IM heats on Monday, McKeown will have the 100m back all on its own, which is a frightening prospect as her first event. Additionally, she’ll now have Wednesday entirely off before taking on the 200m back. A day of rest prior to that race also puts the world record potentially on notice for this ace.

Kaylee McKeown

  • Saturday, July 24th: OFF
  • Sunday, July 25th:
    • 19:02 Tokyo/20:02 AEST – 100m back heats
  • Monday, July 26th:
    • 11:53 Tokyo/12:53 AEST – 100m back semi-final
    • 19:56 Tokyo/20:56 AEST – 200m IM heats
  • Tuesday, July 27th:
    • 10:51 Tokyo/11:51 AEST – 100m back final
    • 11:58 Toyo/12:58 AEST – 200m IM semi-final
  • Wednesday, July 28th:
    • 11:45 Tokyo/12:45 AEST – 200m IM final
  • Thursday, July 29th:
    • 20:08 Tokyo/21:08 AEST – 200m back heats
  • Friday, July 30th:
    • 11:35 Tokyo/12:35 AEST – 200m back semi-final
  • Saturday, July 31st:
    • 10:37 Tokyo/11:37 AEST – 200m back final
    • 11:43 Tokyo/12:43 AEST – mixed medley relay final
  • Sunday, August 1st:
    • 11:15 Tokyo/12:15 AEST – women’s medley relay final

Along with McKeown’s IM withdrawal, however, comes the fact that now the nation of Australia will have zero representation in the IM events on the women’s side at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Stephanie Rice was the megastar in these events for the nation at the 2008 Games, taking double gold in the 200m and 400m IM. She finaled in both events 4 years later but it was teammate Alicia Coutts who took home a medal with the silver in the 200m IM.

Flash forward to Rio and Coutts missed out on a repeat podium, placing 5th while no other IM swimmer advanced in either distance.

Here in Tokyo, McKeown’s withdrawal opens the door for Hosszu to make a surge, although she’ll still have the likes of Yui Ohashi of host nation Japan, Canada’s Sydney Pickrem and Great Britain’s Abbie Wood among the field of viable medal contenders.

McKeown is not the only Australian to have reduced her schedule for the Games, although she is the first to do so this close to them. Post- Olympic Trials, reigning 100m freestyle gold medalist Kyle Chalmers dropped the individual 200m free from his schedule, as did multi-event threat Emma McKeon. 

McKeown also had previously opted out of contesting the 400m IM at these Games despite her representing the top performer in the world in the event this season.

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jeff
1 day ago

oh man, smith and masse better get ready for this

truly excited to see what kinds of backstroke times she can throw down without other events in her way

Last edited 1 day ago by jeff
Troyy
Reply to  jeff
1 day ago

100 back was her first event so it really doesn’t change much.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Troyy
1 day ago

200 im heat was before her 100 back final, but skipping 3 x 200 IMs will help her 200 back even though she’s the clear favourite there

Swimfan
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
1 day ago

She probably more worried about ryhan white in the 200 back to drop the 200 IM

Negyvegyes
Reply to  jeff
1 day ago

This means exactly the opposite. Athletes who are afraid of racing can’t handle high pressure situations. I think Masse and Whyte are the new favorites in the backstroke events.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Negyvegyes
1 day ago

I guess 2012 agnel cracked under pressure in the 200 free (day 3) and 4×100 free (day 2) since he dropped the 400 free (day 1)

Togger
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
1 day ago

Absolutely, should have been 1.41 but he was clearly afraid of racing.

Phelps’ failure to beat Thorpe and PVDH in 2004 can also be blamed on his unwillingness to swim the 200 back like a real racer would.

Last edited 1 day ago by Togger
Troyy
Reply to  Negyvegyes
1 day ago

Maybe those 2 ladies would drop an event too if only they could qualify in something other than backstroke …

Canadian Swammer
Reply to  Troyy
1 day ago

Masse is actually also quite versatile, 2:13 200IM with very strong free and fly times. She has won 100 fly and put up very good free relay times at our varsity championships!

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Troyy
1 day ago

Regan Smith qualified in the women’s 200 meter butterfly.

jeff
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
1 day ago

he said white and masse, although maybe Smith should’ve dropped that 200 fly at trials.. although I do think it’ll be interesting seeing her swim that event at such a high level international competition, I don’t think she’s done that before?

Last edited 1 day ago by jeff
MTK
Reply to  Negyvegyes
1 day ago

It’s not about “being afraid” in McKeown’s case – it’s about trying to ensure that she wins the 2 gold medals that she’s the favourite for, not missing out on them because she overextended herself.

Armchair
Reply to  MTK
23 hours ago

Precisely.

Not Tapered 🏊
Reply to  jeff
1 day ago

Scared of a double, conditioning may not be there.

The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  jeff
1 day ago

I wonder how much Hosszu paid McKeown to drop the IMs. Or maybe sent Shane to have a quite word /s Hes peobably still simping somewhere.

In all seriousness the number of swimmers opting out of 4IM and to a lesser extent McKwepn in this really does take the shine of the events. We all want to see the top swimmers in the rankings in those events.

Last edited 1 day ago by The unoriginal Tim
Sun Yangs Mom
1 day ago

This seems kinda selfish. I’m sure there is another Australian who would want to swim the event.

Samesame
Reply to  Sun Yangs Mom
1 day ago

I don’t think anyone else reached the qualifying time. Australia are very strict. So no one missed out. She is the opposite of selfish btw.

SHG
Reply to  Sun Yangs Mom
1 day ago

I am sure there is another Australian who would want to swim the event BUT as no one else made the qualifying times at the trials the ‘selfish’ comment doesn’t come into it. I think this is a wise decision to focus on her main events.

Troyy
Reply to  Sun Yangs Mom
1 day ago

She was the only qualifier.

commonwombat
Reply to  Sun Yangs Mom
1 day ago

AUS currently has no-one within 4 seconds of her in this event. Nobody has been deprived of a swim by this decision.

SCCOACH
Reply to  Sun Yangs Mom
1 day ago

You all getting mad about the comment realize you are replying to Sun Yang’s mom, right?

Miguel
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 day ago

This comment made my day

Sun Yangs Mom
Reply to  SCCOACH
21 hours ago

🔨 💉

Samesame
1 day ago

Damn! Was hoping to watch her in this. Time to change my pickems again.

Sly
1 day ago

Meh

Robbos
1 day ago

Where is Sub13, what happens with our bet on 5 individual golds on Titmus/McKeon? Gone!!!!

Troyy
Reply to  Robbos
1 day ago

The bookie should void the bet no?

Robbos
Reply to  Troyy
1 day ago

But they still in 5 events????

Troyy
Reply to  Robbos
1 day ago

Oh they are too. C’mon Titmus!

Robbos
Reply to  Troyy
1 day ago

Yes banking on Titmus in the 800, maybe a bit too hard with Ledecky there.
Wonder if bookies (TAB) had inside info.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Robbos
1 day ago

Bookies never have inside info. That is a laughable myth. I worked in sportsbooks for years. We were dependably baffled. Naturally some injuries or other circumstances will work in the house favor. That is nothing but normal distribution. The industry as a whole tries to maintain some type of mystique. That’s why the high profile spokesmen try to pretend there’s insider sauce and connections. Meanwhile it is 100% based on power ratings. That’s where the odds come from…power ratings adjusted by home field advantage (if any). Math-based endeavor.

Sub13
Reply to  Robbos
1 day ago

Yeah this was bad news for us!

I’m a tad devastated because I thought Kaylee had it in her to take all 3! But she obviously made the decision she thinks is best for her so I support her in that.

Actually Titmus could still win the 800? Still theoretically possible for them to get 5 but not going to happen

Last edited 1 day ago by Sub13
Robbos
Reply to  Sub13
1 day ago

Yep, I’m going hard on Titmus if she wins the 200/400 for the 800.

5wimmer
1 day ago

A little disappointing as would have been great to see her swim it however, this is mega exciting for the backstroke events

Khachaturian
1 day ago

its time for katinka

nuotofan
Reply to  Khachaturian
1 day ago

or Pickrem, Wood, Ohashi, Walsh and Douglass..

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  nuotofan
1 day ago

My money’s on one of the UVa women. They remind me of the Cal men (Murphy, Prenot, Pebley) in 2016 coming off a great NCAAs, then OTs then Games. Momentum is a thing.

Chris
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 day ago

couldnt have said it better. They are on fire. I dont see those 2 HIGH momentum swimmers being stopped by a 32 year old that is past her peak (I think). If it was a 100 I would give advantage to Katinka, but the 19 year olds have a huge advantage other than experience.

octopus
Reply to  Chris
1 day ago

Yes, but they both were over 2:09. To win they, or one of them, should drop more than 1.5 s. My pick is Ohashi to win at home. Hosszu is a big questionmark how much can she regain her 2019 form.

Emg1986
1 day ago

So this is how the next ten days are going to be? Me seeing *insert swimmers name here* on my notifications and having to breath into a paper bag for 5 minutes when I realise it isn’t what I was dreading.

Last edited 1 day ago by Emg1986
Rafael
Reply to  Retta Race
1 day ago

Breno correia dropped the 200 free and Sartori will swim it.. probably a lot more changed already that I am not aware

About Retta Race

Retta Race

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