Kaylee McKeown Stands & Delivers For Australian Backstroke New World Order [RACE VIDEOS]


Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans) is one half of an exciting new teenage pairing in the Australian women’s backstroking ranks  and tonight in Brisbane the 18-year-old Sunshine Coaster showed why she will be tough to keep out of the Olympic Swim Team for Tokyo next year.

While “the other half” of this exciting duo, latest world record holder 19-year-old Minna Atherton (Brisbane Grammar) is in Las Vegas preparing for the International Swimming League (ISL) grand final this weekend, McKeown was slugging it out in style at the Queensland Championships at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre tonight.

And she certainly looked the goods adding the 200m individual medley (2:11.02) and a short time later the 200m backstroke (2:07.53) to her opening night victory in the 100m backstroke in 59.29.


Kaylee McKeown; Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

McKeown won silver in the 200m backstroke behind US super-teen Regan Smith who smashed the world record at the Gwangju and finished fifth in the 100m backstroke, which saw Atherton take silver behind Canada’s two-time world champion Kyle Masse.

McKeown had to pull out all stops to overcome Korea’s Seoyeong Kim (2:11.54) and Sakiko Shimizu (Japan) in 2:13.47.

On to the 200m backstroke, less than 20 minutes later and there was no catching McKeown down the final lap as she powered over the top of Japan’s Marina Furubayashi (2:12.15) and her USC Spartans teammate Mikkayla Sheridan (2:12.77).

In the men’s, impressive Kiwi World Championship bronze medallist Lewis Clareburt from the Wellington Capital Swim Team in New Zealand added the 200IM crown in 1:59.98 to his 400IM win on the opening night in a pleasing early season time of 4:13.41.


Surprise packet: Kiwi IM star Lewis Clareburt. Photo Courtesy: Jo Kleindl

Clareburt and coach Gary Hollywood will now stay in Queensland for a pre-Christmas training camp before preparing for the New Zealand Olympic Trials at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre Auckland from March 31 to April 4.

“Coming over here I really didn’t expect to race too fast and when I saw that 4:13 in the 400IM it was a bit of a surprise..but I was pretty happy and I guess it shows how well my training is tracking along,” said Clareburt, a part-time Commerce student, who was stoked to earn an increase in funding following his Gwangju success.

“The funding has been a huge boost for me and hopefully heading towards next year I can keep it going.

“I have already (swum) the qualifying time for (Tokyo) in the 400IM and two people have to beat my time (4:12.07 and ranked 9th in the world) at the Trials to make the team.

“I will also contest the 200IM and the 200m butterfly at the Trials and also hopefully make it in the (4x200m freestyle) relay.”

Clareburt would like nothing more than to add his name to a small but select group of Kiwi Olympic-medal winning men led by Danyon Loader who became the first New Zealand swimmer to win double gold medals, and at one OIympic Games, in Atlanta in 1996 in the 200m and 400m freestyle and Paul Kingsman (200 backstroke) and Anthony Mosse (200m butterfly) who both won bronze at the Seoul Olympics.

The 20-year-old from Wellington has fond memories of brave Kiwi Moss Burmester who took it out in the first lap of the 200m butterfly in Beijing in 2008 against the world’s greatest swimmer Michael Phelps, before finishing fourth.

“I remember watching Moss in that Olympic 200m butterfly final and how exciting it was and I’m looking forward to next year myself,” said Clareburt.

In other events 16-year-old Joshua Edwards-Smith (UWA West Coast) – one of the stars of the National Age Championships earlier in the year, clocked 1:57.78 – just outside his best to beat Andrew Jeffcoat (New Zealand) 1.58.51 and Tristan Hollard (Southport Olympic) 1:58.69 in the 200m backstroke to signal his arrival in open company.

The youngest in the field, Edwards-Smith gave away up to nine years to his oldest rival, Japan, Takeharu Fujimori.

Edwards-Smith is a member of swimming’s “new wave” who have put their hands up at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre this week at a meet that often throws up exciting new talent in an Olympic year.


Flying: Elizabeth Dekkers (Newmarket Racers) receives her “Swimmer of the Session” Award from 2012 Olympian Chris Wright. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media

Last night saw another classic example of that with the arrival of Elizabeth Dekkers (Newmarket Racers) who re-wrote her own Australian and Queensland 15 years 200m butterfly records and also taking almost two seconds off Olympic silver medallist Maddie Groves Queensland All-Comers record clocking a time of 2:08.51.

She was back in the pool tonight against the open girls, pushing two-time World Championship IM medallist Yui Ohashi (Japan) before finishing second to the experienced 24-year-old – Ohashi touching in 2:08.06 with Dekkers clocking her second ever best time of 2:09.34, with Commonwealth Games silver medallist Laura Taylor taking the bronze in 2:11.08.

Another rising star, 15-year-old Molly O’Callaghan (St Peters Western) added the 50m Age group title to her 100m last night, winning in 25.41 – the fastest Australian swimmer in tonight’s all-ages 50m freestyle events – beaten only by open winner, Japan’s Runa Imai (25.21).

It came 24 hours after she broke Shayna Jack’s 100m 15 years Queensland All-Comers record in a time of 54.77.


Kiah Melverton on her way to gold medal number three in the 800m freestyle. Photo Courtesy: Medal Shots

Later in the night freestyle stars TSS Aquatic’s Kiah Melverton (800m freestyle in 8:26.63) and Chandler’s Jack McLoughlin (1500m in 14.58.90) continued their dominance which had seen the pair take out the 200 and 400m freestyle finals.

Melverton went to an early lead over the first 100m with Australia’s Tokyo-bound 10km open water marathon swimmer Kareena Lee (Noosa) hot on her heels and she stuck to the World Championship finalist like glue through the 16 lapper, with Melverton hanging on to beat Lee who clocked her second pb of the week of 8:27.90, by 1.37seconds.

It is another huge confidence booster for Lee and coach John Rodgers who will now have the luxury of setting his 25-year-old for the 1500m at next June’s Olympic Swim Trials in Adelaide having already made the team inn the 10km.

Rodgers would also be buoyed by the performance of his other marathon swimmer, Australian open water and surf race champion Nick Sloman (Noosa) who also stuck with Commonwealth Games gold medallist in over 1500m, McLoughlin (Chandler) through the first 1200m before McLoughlin dropped under 30 seconds for his 25th 50m split and staying under for the final 200m –storming home impressively with a final lap split of 27.49.

Sloman, as hard as he tried, couldn’t match the change of pace from a world class 800 and 1500m swimmer but did manage to sprint home in an impressive 28.72 for his final lap to stop the clock in a new personal best time of 15:05.82 – a sub 15 minutes time won’t be far away.


Jack McLoughlin a picture of concentration before wrapping up the 1500m freestyle tonight. Photo Courtesy: Medal Shots.

While McLoughlin will be the man to beat over both 800 and 1500m at the Trials, Sloman will set himself for the open water berth first and foremost with the 1500m now also a realistic chance.

Third home was World Junior Championship silver medallist Thomas Neal (Rackley Swim Team) who impressed at this year’s World Junior Championships with his 14: 59.19 and who tonight clocked 15.11.28 after a busy program of events this week – a youngster who will be thereabouts when the whips are cracking next year and another member of Australia’s “next wave” talented teens.