Top-Ranked Kaylee McKeown Drops 200 IM From Olympic Schedule

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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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Linda Larkin
1 year ago

I will be watching Kaylee. So proud of all you’ve achieved. ❤️❤️

1 year ago

It’s not the biggest!!!!

The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  Robbos
1 year ago

Interesting comment. We all have our pet events I guess. I think the 200IM is close behind the 200 Free as the best event. 🙂

Obviously from a medals/qualification point of view 100s are where it is at for relay duty. I actually fear that stroke 200s will one day be dropped for stroke 50s especially if national federations keep leaving top-class A cut 200 swimmers at home.

Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
1 year ago

Fair enough!!!

Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
1 year ago

I honestly agree that as a spectator, 200fr and 200IM are the most fun to watch. I think there are a couple reasons for this: 1) as mid-distance events, it is easier to see what is happening than in a more splashy sprint event, and easier on the attention than a distance freestyle, and there’s some pacing/strategy that comes into play, 2) because free is the “classic” swim stroke and IM is the true measure of versatility, 3) usually the top swimmers in these events are among the best all-around swimmers in the world and are also contenders in other events.

Last edited 1 year ago by MTK
1 year ago

The Aussie choking begins. Scurrrrred

Reply to  Pvdh
1 year ago

We just beat Argentina in the football 2 nil, could be our games!!!!

Reply to  Pvdh
1 year ago

Wow making fun of a teenager with a dead parent. You are classy AF.

Buck Chivas
1 year ago

Perhaps a slight groin or knee injury? Something aggravated by breast and/ or fly. Obviously just a guess.

Reply to  Buck Chivas
1 year ago

Dont spculate on peoples health…not a good look.

Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

Really stupid. McKeown seemingly thinks Hosszu is still at 2016 level just like Titmus somehow believes Ledecky is still at 2016 level. As others have pointed out, her age is the time to go bold, not to back off and wait for another day.

1 year ago

What do we think it’ll take to win 200IM this time around? Doubt it’ll be 2:06s like gold-silver in 2016.

Pickrem PB is 2:08.61
Ohashi PB is 2:07.91
Walsh PB is 2:08.87
Douglass PB is 2:09.32
Wood PB is 2:09.23
Hosszu was 2:07.0 in 2019, but has only been 2:09/2:10 since.

I think it’ll be close in the top 5-6. 2:07.7 to win, 2:08.4 for podium and some other 2:08s/2:09s just missing the podium.

The unoriginal Tim
1 year ago

Conclusion: only golds matter. Two golds is better four silver/bronze medals.

1 year ago

I hate this sooo much. Never going to recover as well b/n races as you will at 20. It would be different if she were potentially fighting for bronze or silver, but I think many favored her for gold.

The Australian staff keeps downplaying their status as favorites in events so much that they might just end up convincing themselves that they’re not supposed to win.

No Australian had ever won 6 medals at a single games. She had a chance to be immortalized.

Reply to  oxyswim
1 year ago

She has to win one first… Even Phelps experimented at world’s etc with big programs before settling on the specific schedule for Athens. She hasn’t done this yet. First Olympics not for that kind of experiment…Let alone with all of this year’s variables.

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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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