Kaylee McKeown Blasts 57.63 Commonwealth Record Just 0.06Sec Shy Of World 100 Back Mark

2021-05-15 Reading Time: 3 minutes
This happen for a reason, says Kaylee McKeown on her Swimming Australia profile

Kaylee McKeown threw down a Boxing Kangaroo of a gauntlet at the Sydney Open with a Commonwealth record of 57.63 in the 100m backstroke, the sizzling speed of it just 0.06sec shy of the World record held by American Regan Smith.

That the swim came with only a few weeks left to Olympic trials in Australia and two months out from the Games themselves can be taken with a pinch of salt: world records set soon before a Games throughout history have been both precursors and curses to gold on the big occasion.

What is certain is that McKeown is in the form of her life at just the right time. After giving warning with a 58.14 in evening heats on Friday Down Under, Kaylee McKeown scorched a 28.24 there and 29.39 back to take the helm of the 2021 World rankings in the second fastest time in history.

The World record of 57.57 was set by Smith at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju when she led the USA to gold in the 4×100 medley.

Deep into a pandemic in the second season of Covid-19 constraints, the pace of the delayed Olympic Games might feel the weight of it all, or so it was thought at some point in the challenge of it all. Events this year have clearly shown that the elite shoal of world swimming has continued to work on and gather momentum fit to deliver a tidal wave of pioneering performances should the Tokyo Olympic Games go ahead, given the crisis underway in the health service in Japan (in The Vortex).

Money and multi-billion-dollar contracts are driving the agenda on the Olympic side of decision-making at a time when 70% of the Japanese population want the Games cancelled.

The contract between the IOC and host city Tokyo is straightforward: There’s one article regarding cancellation and it only gives the option for the IOC to cancel, not for the host city. That’s because the Olympic Games are the “exclusive property” of the IOC, international sports lawyer Alexandre Miguel Mestre told the BBC. And as the “owner” of the Games, it is the IOC that can terminate said contract. 

War or civil disorder are among reasons to cancel. Arguably, the pandemic is another in 2021 after that was indeed the case in 2020. The Olympic charter also stipulates that the IOC should ensure “the health of the athletes” and promote “safe sports”, Mestre told the BBC, which adds in its commentary: “but despite all this, the IOC seems determined to go ahead”.

Meanwhile, the athletes must work on and envision their goals being achieved regardless of what unfolds.

How Kaylee Mckeown Shuffled The All-Time Rankings

Kaylee McKeown took down the national and regional 100m mark a day after a 2:04.31 in the 200m backstroke that leads the 2021 rankings and left her a touch closer than she was to the top 2 all-time at No3: Smith’s world record from 2019 World titles stands at 2:03.35, while the London 2012 Olympic title went to fellow American Missy Franklin in a then World record of 2:04.06. McKeown’s best had been 2:04.49.

Big backstroke showdowns, then, set for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, beyond Trials in both Australia and the United States, the last two nations to hold full trials and among the few to keep it ‘sudden-death’ with no pre-selections and no ‘other events’ that count towards selection.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney after the 100m, Kaylee McKeown said:

Kayless McKeown, courtesy of Swimming Australia

“It felt like I was holding a lot more water than last night (in the heat) so we decided to take it out a bit easier and see what I could bring it home in… I was actually really impressed with that race backing up. When I touched the wall, I looked over at my coach Chris Mooney and he wasn’t looking at me…and I thought what? And he was (actually) hand shaking all the other coaches and of course he came down and of course he’s happy with me as well. It was so close but I have to have something to chase and (world record holder) Regan Smith is still the No. 1 girl at the moment and then I’ve got a lot of girls chasing me here like Emily Seebohm and Minna Atherton and other girls coming out left, right and centre and there is still a month to go (to our Trials). Who knows what can happen in that time…? And between now and then I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and keep training hard.”

Kaylee Mckeown
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