Australia’s “Sunshine Sisters” Kaylee McKeown and Lani Pallister Light Up The Dolphins Fast Lane

Kaylee Focus
FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE: Backstroke world record holder Kaylee McKeown always looking forward.Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Australia’s “Sunshine Sisters” Kaylee McKeown and Lani Pallister Light Up The Dolphins Fast Lane

Australia’s Tokyo Olympic hopefuls led by Queensland Sunshine Coast teenagers Kaylee McKeown and Lani Pallister have rocketed the Dolphins back into the fast lane after the 2020 Hancock Prospecting Australian Virtual Short Course which ended tonight.

Unable to attend this year’s International Swimming League (ISL) in Budapest, almost all of the top Australian contenders re-launched their racing season in a five-city race weekend, with all results submitted into an online results service.

After four days of racing it was 19-year-old McKeown who emerged as the star performer following her outstanding world record swim in the 200m backstroke on Saturday morning.

WR hug

ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO TOO: New SC 200m backstroke world record holder Kaylee McKeown gets a special hug from 100m world record holder Minna Atherton. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

The Chris Mooney-coached McKeown from USC Spartans on the Queensland Sunshine Coast had shown her hand a fortnight ago when she re-wrote the Commonwealth and Australian backstroking record books in a low-key Queensland Long Course Meet.

Coming off the best long course form of your career into short course meet with $1200 first prize money on offer for Olympic events it was always going to promise some fast times – and she didn’t disappoint –attacking the “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu’s 2014 world mark with a vengeance.

It was under siege from the opening lap and with short course 100m backstroke world record holder Minna Atherton (Moreton Bay) right alongside her, McKeown, oblivious to the world record time, wasted no time, setting a cracking pace.

And in the end, despite saying she still had to improve her turns and breakouts, her 1:58.94, blasted Hosszu’s 1:59.23 out of the water.

And what is even more scary is that both coach and swimmer had no hesitation in saying: “We’ve got more to give….alot of improvement to come.”

Moreton Bay’s Atherton (2:03.64) claimed the second spot and Griffith University’s ever present Jessica Unicomb (2:07.07) touched in third.

“Short course is something we don’t get to very often so I was excited to see what I could put up after some solid training this year,” said McKeown.

“I headed over to my teammates and my coach and they said, you just got a world-record, and I was like, what? I didn’t actually know till a few minutes later.”

And she continued to impress all weekend, adding the 50 and 100m backstroke and the 100 and 200 IMs to her name as well and the records and pbs kept coming.

McKeown added Commonwealth and Australian records to her world record in the women’s 200m IM, in a time of 2:03.68 ahead of St Peters Western’s Jenna Forrester and Hunter’s Meg Bailey who clocked 2:09.00 and 2:09.15, respectively.

McKeown said she was surprised by her record swims.

“It is definitely surprising, coming into this meet I didn’t think I would get a world record this morning and then do this tonight so I am humbled by it and proud of it and proud my teammates and coach got me there as well,” she said.

McKeown continued her superb form into the final evening claiming yet another top spot – this time in the women’s 100m backstroke posting a winning personal best time of 55.68 ahead of Atherton (Moreton Bay) in 56.36 and St Peters Western 16-year-old young gun Mollie O’Callaghan third in 56.76. McKeown also took out the Women’s 100m Individual Medley to see her finish the meet with an impressive four wins.

Lani Pallister VIRTUAL

STROKE OF GENIUS: Lani Pallister shows the style that saw her nail both the 800 and 1500m freestyle Australian SC records. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

Not far behind McKeown in the record stakes was her fellow Sunshine Coaster, three-time Fina World Junior Champion, Pallister who tonight added a world class Australian record in the 1500m freestyle – the new Olympic event for women – to her Australian record swim on Saturday over 800m.

Pallister (15:28.33) claimed an Australian record – in the third fastest time in history ahead of Noosa’s Tokyo-bound marathon swimmer Kareena Lee in 15:34.31 (7th fastest time ever) and TSS Aquatics’ Madeleine Gough third in 15:37.38.

On Saturday morning Pallister, coached by her mum, Olympian Janelle Elford,  had lowered her own Australian record over 800m in a time of 8:10.12 – to suggest she has not been idle in the Covid months finishing ahead of Lee and Phoebe Hines (USC Spartans) who also swam personal best of 8:14.13 and 8:16.32 respectively.

Emma McKeon’s Cashes In With Four Wins

Triple Olympian, Cate Campbell (Knox Pymble) finished her meet in style winning the 50m freestyle in 23.68 ahead of Griffith University’s Emma McKeon (23.87) – who finished the meet with four wins – and Marion’s Madison Wilson (24.18) – but they played second fiddle to McKeon in the 100m.

It was again McKeon, swimming in Brisbane who clocked a near-pb of 51.17, ahead of Wilson – swimming a personal best time of 51.74 – and world record holder Campbell (51.79), both swimming in Sydney, again suggesting there’s strong depth in the countdown to Tokyo with Holly Barratt, at 31 clocking 52.40 and Mollie O’Callaghan at 16 next on 52.48.

McKeon added to her wins when she clocked 1:51.83 in the women’s 200m freestyle followed by the Peter Bishop-coached Wilson, who swam yet another personal best time, in 1:52.77 and Chandler’s Rio Olympic silver medallist Leah Neale, now at Chandler under Vince Raleigh, in 1:54.45.

Emma McKeon

MAKING A SPLASH: Emma McKeon made her presence felt with four wins in Brisbane. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

McKeon (55.67) also claimed the women’s 100m butterfly in Brisbane with swims in Perth by Rockingham’s Barratt (57.78) and UWA West Coast’s (58.22) Rio Olympian and Gwangju golden girl Brianna Throssell taking out the minor placings.

While on Saturday night world champion Ariarne Titmus (St Peters Western) was in superb form, winning the women’s 400m Freestyle in 3:54.58, giving her world record time a nudge, ahead of Neale (3:58.80) and USC Spartan’s Hines (4:01.69), saying she has work on her last 100m before the Queensland States in two weeks.

“I was on track for the world record at the 300 but my last 100m was average and that’s what I’ve got to fix in a couple of weeks,” said Titmus.

“It’s good to get back, this is my first race in over a year, since ISL last year; I know where I’m at in training at the moment, but it’s a different thing when it comes to racing.

“It’s good to see where I was in a racing environment and I definitely picked up some things that I can work on. It’s been good to get those juices flowing again, it’s been fun.

Freestyle Depth Finders Lead Charge To Olympics

In the men’s events Bond University’s Gwangju relay gold medallist Alex Graham pumped out a pb of 1:41.40 to take out the men’s 200m freestyle, followed by St Peters Western and Australian team mates team mates Clyde Lewis (1:43.07) and Elijah Winnington (1:44.07).

Only Australians to have swum faster are dual Olympian Cam McEvoy (1:40.80) in 2015 and Ian Thorpe (1:41.10) in 2000.

In the 400m it was Winnington – now firmly entrenched under Dean Boxall at St Peters Western, who clocked 3:37.71 to keep emerging Damian Jones-coached Rackley boys Thomas Neill (3:41.02) and MLC National Flippers squad member Samuel Short (3:41.81) at bay claiming second and third, respectively.

But in the 800m freestyle it was young gun Short who got the money in 7:43.85pb from training partner Neill (7:39.04) and Olympian Jack McLoughlin (Chandler) third in 7:42.64.

Short finished off another brilliant weekend’s racing, finished second to 10km Tokyo marathon and 1500m hope Nick Sloman (Noosa) in the 1500m with Sloman, under the shrewdest coach in the game John “JR” Rodgers, taking out top spot in 14:42.71 from Short (14:44.84) and Elliot Rogerson (Nunawading) 14:56.61 – all the boys producing pbs.

There was a thrilling blanket men’s 100m freestyle in Brisbane and times in from Perth and Melbourne have certainly highlighted the improved depth in the men’s blue ribband event – and with the notable absence of Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers, recovering from successful arthroscopic shoulder surgery in Sydney last week.

Commonwealth Games and World Championship Dolphin Jack Cartwright (St Peters Western) showed he is ready to make his mark again after shoulder troubles, surging home over the closing stages to grab the victory in 47.24 in an eye-catching Brisbane swim.

Cartwright out-touched former champion McEvoy (TSS Aquatic) 47.34 and the Richard Scarce-trained Graham (47.35) while in Perth, Ashton Brinkworth (UWA West Coast) checked in on 47.48, then Brisbane’s early leader, Rackley’s Louis Townsend (47.51) with Victoria’s Craig Jackson-coached Jack Gerrard (Melbourne Vicentre) chipping in with a 47.60 just ahead of Lewis’ (47.64) – and just 0.40secs separating the first seven places and all under 48 seconds.

While in the men’s 50m freestyle it was Brinkworth (21.30) under Mick Palfrey, who claimed the win following his swim in Perth, while Nunawading’s Wayne Lawes-trained “butterfly boy” Matthew Temple (21.37) who grabbed second with TSS Aquatic’s McEvoy (21.39) the third spot, swimming out of Brisbane.

Temple showed why he is now considered a real Tokyo hope with wins in all three butterfly events from 50 to 100 and 200m.

He started out with a classy 1:52.25 on Thursday night in Melbourne ahead of Nunawading teammate Bowen Gough and WA’s Nicholas Brown; added the 100m in 49.32 in a whopping pb that was under the Australian all-comers record set by David Morgan in 2016 and puts him in the all-time top 20.

Matt Wilson Virtual

BLIND FAITH: Sydney’s Matthew Wilson on his way to a new Australian record in the 100m breaststroke in Brisbane. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

The pace was hot in Brisbane on the final night, cementing the top three positions in the men’s 200m breaststroke where Chandler’s Zac Stubblety-Cook (2:03.94) touched in first place ahead of SOPAC’s Matt Wilson (2:04.05) and USC Spartan’s Jake Packard (2:08.63).

It comes after the Adam Kable-coached Wilson (56.89) had taken out the men’s 100m breaststroke in a new Australian record beating Samuel Williamson’s (Firbank Aquatics) time of 57.00 – set in Melbourne on Friday morning. Packard claimed third place in a time of 57.82.

And last but by no means least, Australia’s premier male swimmer, dual Olympian Mitch Larkin chalked up four impressive wins in the 100m (50.48) and 200m (1:50.04) backstrokes and 100m (53.26) and 200 IMs (1:53.38) suggesting he will be ripe for the Queensland Long Course in two weeks – where he will again be a headline act – unless of course the girls continue on their record breaking ways.

Full results of the 2020 Hancock Prospecting Australian Virtual Short Course can be found here.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Verram

    So is Queensland champs in two weeks long course ? Can’t wait to see more long course racing in lead up to Tokyo 2020one