Aussie Teen Sensation Kaylee McKeown Sizzles Down Under with a World Class 100m Backstroke Time of 58.11

SMILEY FACE: Kaylee McKeown has every reason to be a happy camper after her 58.11 for 100m backstroke in Brisbane today. Photo: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Aussie Teen Sensation Kaylee McKeown Sizzles Down Under with a World Class 100m Backstroke Time of 58.11

Right out of the blue in Queensland this afternoon, 19-year-old Australian Olympic hopeful Kaylee McKeown has clocked the fourth fastest 100m backstroke time in history at the low key Medal Shots Long Course Preparation Meet at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.

With the world focused on short course, McKeown, the World Championship silver medallist over 200m backstroke last year, clocked a sizzling long course personal best of 58.11 (out in 28.70 and home in 29.41) – a time that would have won her every Olympic gold medal in history.

GWANGJU Kaylee McKeown reaction

AN OMG MOMENT for Kaylee McKeown after her World Championship silver in the 200m backstroke in Gwangju. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

And all bar one of the Fina World Championships –only the 2017 title won by Canada’s Kyle Masse in Budapest in 2017 (in a then world record time of 58.10 – so the barest of margins) has ever been won in a quicker time.

Current world record holder Regan Smith (USA) 57.57 and previous world record holders Kathleen Baker (USA) 58.00 and two-time world champion and Commonwealth record holder, Masse are ahead of McKeown in what is very much a “live” leaderboard in the race to Tokyo.

And only….if we can say that, 0.54secs outside Smith’s world record set at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju when she led off the all-conquering US women’s medley relay – after not qualifying for an individual spot.

Baker’s time of 58 flat was swum to win the US Nationals in 2018.

So low key was today’s event at Chandler that McKeown’s new Australian and Australian All-Comers record times actually came and went with hardly a ripple.

No fan-fare…no commentary…no live TV, no media, no cameras, no presentation….no mention over the public address..just a very fast swim indeed.

McKeown knew and her coach knew that she produced the best swim of her short career as she sets her sights on making the 2021 Tokyo Olympic team – which in Australia is no mean feat with Seebohm setting her sights on her fourth Olympics and Gwangju 100m silver medallist and world short course record holder Minna Atherton, also in the fast lane, leading the charge.


TAKING FLIGHT: Kaylee McKeown is certainly launching herself on the road to Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

McKeown’s time lowered Seebohm’s records – her eight-year-old Australian record of 58.23 set at the London Olympics in 2012 and the All-Comers (fastest time swum in Australia) record of 58.62, set at the same Brisbane Aquatic Centre in 2017.

And in many respects the low key, under the radar feel certainly suits the McKeown camp.

In fact that’s just the way her astute coach Chris Mooney at the University of Sunshine Coast (USC Spartans Swim Team) likes it….not too much fuss….a performance to celebrate of course  but not one to get overly carried away with.

The way the day panned out was certainly not in the “normal category” that’s for sure as swimmers from all over Queensland converged into the Brisbane pool chasing qualifying times for the State Long Course Championships next month.

As the rest of the State headed to the beach to take full advantage of the 30 plus temperatures, the Aquatic Centre had a real “it’s hot like Tokyo” feel to it.

There were no heats and finals, just a straight out swim but the scheduling saw the multi-talented youngster clock a personal best 400m freestyle at around 12.45pm in Saturday morning’s first session – where she negative split her personal best, clocking 4:10.67 (2:05.84 and 2:04.83).

McKeown swam down, had lunch and prepared for a 2:10pm start time for the afternoon session and the 100m backstroke and a stunning performance that while it was a surprise to many – not so to coach Mooney.

When Swimming World tracked him down, Mooney’s first words were….“There’s a nice little surprise for you….and she’s stoked….and it came after her 400m freestyle personal best….and I was stoked too with that negative split swim.

“We came up with a race plan (for the 100m backstroke), she dropped the hammer on it and the rest is history.

“Kaylee has been training well, she is very compliant…she wants to be the best and I think she has got a real sound idea of what it takes to be the best and our plan last year was to be the best we could in January and she did that in Adelaide.

“The Tokyo Olympics was then cancelled and you may ask ‘What do we do ?….and the answer is we don’t change anything’ we just try and become one percent better and four percent better here and there.

“The plan doesn’t change, we want to be better this January than we were last January – but it has happened in November instead of January IO guess.

“It’s just nice, it means we are on the right track, she did an amazing job during Covid – she has tackled some hurdles and she is just one heck of an athlete.

Kaylee and her 2016 Olymian sister Taylor lost their father and their inspiration, Sholto McKeown in August this year

“I’m actually a little bit lost for words I guess – but happy for her but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.

“The instruction at the start of the day was that we don’t do a lot of 400s so we want to negative split that or even split that and she did exactly that and I told her ‘job well done’

“She went and swam down and had something to eat and after she warmed up for the 100m backstroke she said what’s the race plan?

Chris Mooney whistle

WETTING OUR WHISTLE: Kaylee McKeown’s 100m backstroke swim is a sign of things to come and coach Chris Mooney may well have reason to ‘whistle dixie” Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

“And I said well the race plan is to control that first 50m – and we know what our target time is to go out in when it comes time to race and she stuck to the race plan and she showed that her skills have really improved.

“She knows what the best in the world is doing and if we want to be the best in the world those skills needed to improve and they have improved but we’ve still got improvement in us.

“Of course we are happy and we will celebrate a great swim but we know we’ve still got a lot of work to do but we are just happy that what we are doing is working in a way that can produce a result like that.

“We are just excited by what’s ahead, we’ve still got to focus, we’ve still got a goal and we’ve still got plenty of time to make those improvements and that’s exactly what we are going to do.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to be ready when it comes time. The job is not done yet, there is still work to do, but we are on the right track.

“We are not going to get too carried away, we are just going to take some confidence away from it.”

You get the impression that coach Mooney, who plied his trade under Olympic gold medal winning coach Denis Cotterell at Miami on the Gold Coast before taking on the Head Coach role at the University of Hawaii, has a live one on his hands.

And they both know exactly where they are going and what it’s going to take to get there.

Watch this space.



  1. avatar

    Fantastic story