David McKeon, Two-Time Australian Olympian, Retires at Age 28

DAVID MCKEON: One of Australia's finest 400m freestylers, retires after a celebrated career. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

David McKeon, a two-time Olympic swimmer representing Australia, announced his retirement from the sport Thursday.

McKeon announced the decision via Facebook.

“After being involved in a sport that has gave me more than I could have possibly dreamed, it’s with both trepidation and excitement I announce my retirement from competitive swimming,” McKeon wrote. “… This isn’t a goodbye to swimming by any means, this is just the start of a new chapter in my journey.”

The 28-year-old swam for the Aussies at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. He placed 14th in the 400 freestyle at the 2012 Games and swam in prelims for the fifth-place 800 free relay.

At the Rio Games, he and his sister Emma McKeon became the first brother/sister duo to represent Australia swimming since John and Ilsa Konrads in 1960. David McKeon finished seventh in the men’s 400 freestyle, less than two seconds outside the medals, and swam the third leg of the Australians’ fourth-place 800 free relay.


GENTLEMAN OF THE SPORT: David McKeon leaves a special legacy. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

McKeon grew up in Wollongong, New South Wales, coached by his father, Olympian Ron McKeon. He won gold in the 800 free relay at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and silver in the 400 free. He added relay bronze medals at the 2015 World Championships and the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.

McKeon won gold in the 400 free at the 2011 World University Games. He was eighth in the 400 free at 2017 Worlds.

 Swimming World’s Oceania Correspondent Ian Hanson has followed David’s career since he first burst onto the scene in 2010, a late bloomer who had no early ambitions of following in his family footsteps to the pool, preferring to use his gift of height as a basketballer.

“But it didn’t take long for the poolside pull to win over, his natural abilities seeing him rise rapidly to the ranks as one of Australia’s most talented 200 and 400m freestylers,” said Hanson.

“The only Australians to have swum faster than him over 400m freestyle are our Olympic champions Ian Thorpe, Mack Horton and Grant Hackett.


“And while his feats as a dual Olympian and a dual Commonwealth Games medallist have been well documented Daveo McKeon was a young lad whop grew up in swimming royalty – when his father Ron McKeon married fellow 1982 Commonwealth Games representative Suzie Woodhouse, sister of Olympic bronze medallist from ’84 Rob Woodhouse.



TALENT POOL: David McKeon, Mack Horton and Grant Hacket. Photo: Swimming Australia.

“A family swimming tree started in 1978 by Ron (Pin # 272) and joined by Rob (#310) and Susie (#311) in 1982 before Emma (#702) with her 2010 debut and David (#721) in 2012.

“Swimming was in his blood and despite an early reluctance when he finally became fully baptised he swam because he loved it and embraced every opportunity.

“Especially alongside sister Emma – the McKeons continued a rich family tradition – proudly but without fanfare and fuss.

“Saying to Emma and his family: ‘You have supported, inspired, consoled, and celebrated with me through both the best and the worst of times. I love you all’ – that’s David.

“Daveo McKeon will be remembered as one of the real gentlemen of Australian swimming who lived to represent his country.

“Two Olympics, three World Championships, a Commonwealth Games and a Pan Pacs.

“His gold medal as a member of Australia’s triumphant 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow forged a special link with father Ron who won gold in the same relay on debut in Edmonton in 1978.

“Twelve months ago his family was evacuated from their Lake Conjola home with the area ravaged by Australia’s devastating bushfires.

McKeon Family Survives Catastrophic Bushfires

“And it was David and the McKeon family who pulled together the “who’s who” of Australia’s Dolphins for a fund raising swim clinic for the bushfire victims, held at the McKeon’s pool in Wollongong.

“Saying on his retirement: This isn’t a goodbye to swimming by any means, this is just the start of a new chapter in my journey!’

“And rest assured David McKeon will continue to make a difference….”

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ALL IN THE OLYMPIC FAMILY: (L-R): Ron McKeon and offspring Emma and David on the 2016 Team for Rio. Photo Courtesy: Emma McKeon

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Jane Luscombe
Jane Luscombe
3 years ago

Congratulations and thanks to a wonderful sportsman, you have made Australia proud on so many occasions. Best wishes for a wonderful future

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