World Leader Kaylee McKeown Won’t Swim 400 IM at Australian Olympic Trials

2021 SWIMMING AUSTRALIA OLYMPIC TRIALS

Australia’s Kaylee McKeown, who has risen to superstardom with a number of world-leading swims during the coronavirus pandemic, will sit out the 400 IM at Australia’s upcoming Olympic Trials.

Instead, she’ll focus on the 100 back, 200 back, and 200 IM at that meet.

Last December, McKeown swam 4:32.73 in the 400 IM in long course at the Queensland Championships. That swim makes her the 16th-best performer in the history of the event and the 2nd-fastest Australian to ever race it, behind only Olympic champion Steph Rice.

2020-2021 LCM Women 400 IM

YuiJPN
Ohashi
07/24
4:32.08
2Kaylee
McKeown
AUS4:32.7312/13
3Emma
Weyant
USA4:32.7607/24
4Hali
Flickinger
USA4:33.9606/13
5Melanie
Margalis
USA4:34.0806/13
View Top 26»

Significantly, it also makes McKeown the 4th-fastest swimmer in the event since the 2019 World Championships:

  1. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – 4:32.30
  2. Melanie Margalis, United States – 4:32.53
  3. Yui Ohashi, Japan – 4:32.57
  4. Kaylee McKeown, Australia – 4:32.73
  5. Mireia Belmonte, Spain – 4:34.47

With Mireia Belmonte’s ongoing injury issues probably eliminating her from contention, and with Katinka Hosszu showing cracks in her iron armor, McKeown would’ve had a strong chance for an Olympic medal in the 400 IM.

She’ll instead pass that up to focus on the backstroke races, where gold and World Records seem in range, and the shorter 200 IM. The backstrokes will have a deep field, led by another teenager Regan Smith, who set World Records in both at the 2019 World Championships.

The 400 IM doesn’t have a direct event conflict with her 100 back, 200 back, or 200 IM, though the final of the 400 IM is the morning of the prelims of the 100 back (with the flipped schedule in Tokyo). It’s also the first day of the meet, and we’ve seen swimmers before go after that early 400 IM and seem to struggle to follow up the strain later in the meet.

McKeown always had choices to make at Australia’s Olympic Trials. With the 100 backstroke comes a spot on the Australian medley relay, which would give her at least 4 events at her first Olympic Games.

With a 1:57.76 in the 200 free in April, there’s a chance she’ll also be optioned in to Australia’s 800 free relay, even if she doesn’t swim the event individually at Trials.

That could leave McKeown with as many as 5 other events that would be adversely impacted by the opening 400 IM in Tokyo, if she qualified.

The Australian Olympic Trials run from June 12-17 at the South Australia Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

 

In This Story

29
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
29 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Comet
4 months ago

Hosszu, Ohashi and Margalis (assuming she makes the us team) will be the three favorites

Swimfan
Reply to  Smith-King--Dahlia-Manuel
4 months ago

Technically hosszu is not a backstoker she’s and IMer

Smith-King--Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  Swimfan
4 months ago

Hungary (2) was won more gold medals in the women’s 100 meter backstroke at the Summer Olympics than Australia (0). LOL!

RMS
Reply to  Smith-King--Dahlia-Manuel
4 months ago

The article says since 2019 World Championships.

Smith-King--Dahlia-Manuel
Reply to  RMS
4 months ago

Chumming the waters

Robbos
Reply to  Smith-King--Dahlia-Manuel
4 months ago

Funny if you go by the same said rankings, Manuel is nowhere to be seen.in the 100 free.

Ghost
4 months ago

Didn’t she and her coach tell us over a month ago that she wouldn’t be swimming the 4im at Trails so surprised this was the headlines?!

Corn Pop
4 months ago

KM has the IM as a long term project . She doesn’t need it .

torchbearer
4 months ago

Hard decision- imagine going into the Olympics as world No1 by 2.5 seconds and watching it on TV….

swimfast
Reply to  torchbearer
4 months ago

I think you mean from the stands because she will at least make the Olympics in multiple other events but yes I see your point. I feel like she isn’t swimming this mostly because it’s on the first day and 2 x 400 IMs is a very tough double when her other events are very very very very VERY competitive (one of them probably being the most competitive event of the competition, men or women)

Last edited 4 months ago by swimfast
STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
4 months ago

Can anyone imagine an American swimmer with a number one world ranking declining to swim the event for fear of fatigue? She has swum sharp times in two events in the one session on many occasions. What makes her and her coach now think it’s too much to swim the 400IM final on the first morning and the 100BK on the third? There’s nothing wrong with tough racing. Australians seem to have an aversion to it. I can think of a few Australians who have failed at the Olympics due to lack of tough racing and mental preparation. I can’t think of any who have failed due to fatigue.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
4 months ago

Pretty much this. It does seem like Australians really press towards specialization, seeing a guy like Chalmers skip out on both the 50 free and 100 fly at trials is emblematic of this. I know he isn’t a medal threat in those events, but there’s an element of learning how to be more versatile and athletic that comes from training for other events. Just a very different philosophy that I personally don’t think is quite as effective.

She also won’t get pressed into a ton of relay duty either-you gotta imagine whoever is the other 100 backstroker will swim prelims of that relay, and Australia’s lack of depth in the men’s 100 fly combined with Campbell assures that she won’t… Read more »

Joel
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
4 months ago

Chalmers was never a 50 free swimmer ( see the back half of his 100 free). I think he even trains for the 200 free more. He also has shoulder surgery end of 2020 which would rule out the 100 fly.
if you ignore Phelps and Lochte, I actually can’t think of many American men who do a lot of events at Olympic level. Yes Dressel will do 3 sprint individual events at the Olympics (2 of them the same stroke) but who else?
Young Winnington and Neill swam around 7-8 events each at age group level but have narrowed it down to mid to long distance free. I think that is pretty normal.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Joel
4 months ago

To be fair, a big part of the reason you can’t think of many American men who do a lot of events at the Olympic level is because they took all of the IM spots for the most part for the last 20 years 🙂 Tyler Clary would likely be the only other name who went for that type of program on the men’s side of the last 20 years. If you expand it to women, you start getting names like Hoff and Franklin who have attacked schedules like this.

The most comparable example on the American side is likely Coughlin, who stopped swimming the 200m back at the international level despite having the American Record in it at the… Read more »

Joel
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
4 months ago

You are contradicting yourself a bit. Americans can specialise but Australians shouldn’t?

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Joel
4 months ago

Huh? I’m saying you specified the Olympic level, and Phelps and Lochte combining to take 8 or 9 of the individual slots at the Olympic level made it so it wasn’t really possible for anyone else to do the same. If you swim 5 events and get 4th in every one at trials, no one remembers your swims at the Olympics 🙂

commonwombat
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
4 months ago

Whilst I am largely in agreement with both your’s and SBL’s point regarding racing (which I suspect may be more due to the mindset of AUS coaches); I can maybe qualify a couple of your points.

With Chalmers, I suspect his health record and recent injury issues may play a part in his program. He’s never been anywhere near internationally competitive in the 50fr LCM so I can understand why they ditched. 100 fly …. probably a better case for swimming it.

With McKeown; its probably not the black and white case you put forward. IF she’s swimming on after Tokyo, her regular “list” will expand to include the 400IM but at this point, its a race she swims very… Read more »

oxyswim
Reply to  commonwombat
4 months ago

Swimmers don’t tend to add the 4IM to their event lineup as they age.

commonwombat
Reply to  oxyswim
4 months ago

Fair point. What I suspect will happen is that she may add it to her program for 2022 CG and see how it plays out against some fairly strong Brits & Canadians. If it proves a success then its going to be a case of whether the programs at Worlds make it viable …… plus the relative state of AUS relays going forward with the impacts of likely retirements both post Tokyo & 2022 CG.

nuotofan
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
4 months ago

Some assertions debatable: 1) “It does seem like Australians really press towards specialization”; well, a youngster like Thomas Neill will be swimming from 100 to 1500 free, another one like Sam Short from 200 to 1500 free, Molly O’ Callaghan 100/200 back and 100/200 free and so on. I think that Chalmers has shoulder issues that suggest caution in his schedule (at the beginning of the season he spoke to swim the 100 fly).
2) “Australia’s lack of depth in the men’s 100 fly combined with Campbell assures that McKeown won’t be on the final of the mixed medley”. Possible, but not certain, considering that the difference between Mc Keown (57.5) and Larkin (52.5) should be around 5 seconds,… Read more »

Robbos
Reply to  nuotofan
4 months ago

I don’t think you are being fair, you are bringing commonsense to these comments & that ain’t fair for STL & PK.

Last edited 4 months ago by Robbos
There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
4 months ago

Michael Phelps was the second best 200 backstroker in the world in 2004, but 200 back final + 200 IM final + 100 fly semi in one session was apparently even too much for him.

See also the 2005 and 2009 Worlds when he dropped the IMs.

Skipper
Reply to  STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
3 months ago

Remember she will have the relays as well. Its her first olympics. Phelps is phelps- do we have to compare everyone to his multi event legacy. Same with the thoughts of Celeb doing the 4×200, and Katie the 4×100- do they need to? Surely the rest of the team can stand up and say “we got this”. Both countries though, are lucky to have such great althletes that this is even a thing.

Troyy
4 months ago

I hope she’ll add it to her program next year at the world champs.

The unoriginal Tim
4 months ago

If I was world number one I would want to swim it and the evening heat morning finals means not having to do two in one day. I understand that it could hurt her 200 Back but she’s shown she can do tough doubles the last few months and is young enough to recover? You have to take your chances while you can in sport.

On the flip side she is a certain gold or silver 200 back and we have seen great swimmers undone by big programs e.g. Lochte in 2012. Although rumours abound about Lochte’s behaviour after that 4IM. The other factor is Lochte was much older and swam that IM like an age grouper completely dead after… Read more »

Joel
Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
4 months ago

As you said, it could hurt her 200 back. I reckon KM and her coach are very sensible and know what she should do at her first Olympics. How many races did the big names race at their first Olympics?

commonwombat
Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
4 months ago

Wouldn’t say the domestic competitions of the past couple of months “tough doubles”. Indeed, her team has been judicious with regards to what events she’s swam and which ones she would swim both heats and finals. Neither has it been the case that she’s HAD to swim hard in heats.

Whilst she has certainly proven she has to capacity for a “major league” 400IM time; doing so in both heats and finals is unproven as yet whereas this is the case with both backstrokes and to a lesser degree 200IM.I can see the case for her swimming the 400IM for Tokyo but can respect the reasoning as to why they’ve taken a pass this time round.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »