Kaylee McKeown The Name On Everyone’s Mind With Australian Trials To Start Saturday In Adelaide

SWIMMING'S SMILING ASSASSIN: Kaylee McKeown, the girl on everyone's lips. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Kaylee McKeown The Name On Everyone’s Mind With Australian Trials To Start Saturday In Adelaide

The 2020-21 season has seen the emergence of a host of young Australian girls with their eyes on the Tokyo prize – and they will all be on show from this Saturday at the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials at the SA Aquatic Leisure Centre from June 12-17.

The new drop of girts will be led by the record breaking Sunshine Coast teen Kaylee McKeown who will contest the 100 and 200m backstroke and the 200m individual medley as she launches a major bid for her first Olympic team.

Five years ago at the 2016 Trials, McKeown was just 14 and she had her first real taste of a major National final – finishing sixth in the 100m backstroke an event won by triple Olympian and the 2015 two-time world champion Emily Seebohm.

Fast forward to 2021 and 12 months after the 2020 scheduled Tokyo Trials and 19-year-old from the USC Spartans powerhouse under coach Chris Mooney and McKeown is the swimmer on everyone’s lips.

And Seebohm at 29 will again grace the lanes at her fourth Olympic Trials as she lines up for a shot at a record-equalling fourth Games as will Cate Campbell as the pair look to join Leisel Jones (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) in an exclusive Olympic swimming club.

Seebohm and Campbell 2008 arrival beijing

OLYMPIC ARRIVAL: Aussie teens Emily Seebohm and Cate Campbell made a big splash when arriving at Beijing Airport for their 2008 debuts. Can they make it a fourth Games in Tokyo? Photo Courtesy: Gregg Porteous (News Ltd/Hanson Media Collection)

Seebohm and Campbell made their debuts in Beijing in 2008 and they have made an incredible impact on the sport over the past 13 years – a fourth team would be a fitting finale – although with these two stars of the pool – who knows what the future holds.

McKeown could well be joined by an exciting group of female swimmers with reigning 400m freestyle world champion Ariarne Titmus, fellow freestylers Lani Pallister, Mollie O’Callaghan and Maddy Gough, her backstroking partner Minna Atherton and butterflying teen Elizabeth Dekkers are all looking to make their first Games team.

Here is a look at some of the key events at the up-coming Australian Trials that will be televised live on Amazon Prime Video.

DAY 2, Sunday, June 13

 400m freestyle

WORLD RECORD: Katie Ledecky (USA) 3:56.46; AUSTRALIAN RECORD: Ariarne Titmus 3:58.76 (2019 World Champs) QT: 4:07.10


FLYING START: Ariarne Titmus off the blocks at the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Preview: The Australian Championships on the Gold Coast in April saw world champion Ariarne Titmus make her return to win the event (4:01.34 – second in the world in ’21) she also won at the 2019 World Championships. She had spent four months re-habbing from a shoulder injury that flared during the 2020 QLD State Championships.


At the World Championships in Gwangju, Titmus recorded Australia’s only individual win in a new Commonwealth, Oceania and Australian record time of 3:58.76. Her winning time on the Gold Coast of 4:01.34 already ranks her second to US super swimmer Katie Ledecky (3:59.25). World junior champion Lani Pallister, Kiah Melverton, Maddy Gough, Leahy Neale and the major contenders for the second individual spot. Melverton finished 5th in the 400m Gwangju final in 4:09.64.

100m backstroke

WORLD RECORD: Regan Smith (USA) 57.57; AUSTRALIAN RECORD: Kaylee McKeown 57.63 QT: 59.71

Kaylee McKeown breaks Commonwealth and Australian Record, 100m BACKSTROKE Final, 2021 Sydney Open, Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre , May 15 2021. Photo by Delly Carr / SOPAC Images. Pic credit is mandatory for complimentary editorial usage. I thank you in advance.

ALL STYLE: Kaylee McKeown on her way to a new Australian record in the 100m backstroke. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Preview: USC Spartan’s Kaylee McKeown’s recent progress has been nothing less than remarkable since she first appeared on the world rankings in 2018 (11th25), then 2019 (9th 59.10), 2020 (1st 59.93) and so far in 2021 (1st 57.63). The 19-year-old Sunshine Coaster (coach Chris Mooney) swims to honour the legacy left by her late father Sholto who died of brain cancer in August 2020. She is in the zone every time she races – “Doing it for Dad” and has emerged as the girl most likely ever since her silver-medal-winning swim in the 200m backstroke at the 2019 World’s in Gwangju. She has not looked back, re-writing all but two of backstroking’s “Olympic event records” over the 100 and 200m backstroke and breaking the world record for 200m backstroke short course. Her latest assault landed her just 0.06 outside Regan Smith’s 100m long course WR with her 57.63 at the Sydney Open meet – the second fastest time in history and it came after her fourth fastest time ever swum over 200m (2:04.31) the day before, after which Smith sent her Aussie rival a text message. But as McKeown well knows she hasn’t got to look too far over her shoulder to see her opposition at home as they challenge for Olympic places. Veteran of three Olympics Emily Seebohm (Griffith University) is on the move for her fourth and is leaving no stone unturned to tick that final Games box – improving her season best to 59.06 behind McKeown in Sydney and with both 2019 world championship silver medallist Minna Atherton (Moreton Bay) who celebrated her 21st on May 17 and the Mollie O’Callaghan, just 17, waiting in the wings the race for a top two spot is wide open. Atherton (59.46 at the ’20 QLD Champs) and O’Callaghan (59.59 at the ’20 QLD Champs) are the only others to have swum under 60secs this season.

DAY 3, Monday June 14

 200m freestyle

World Record: Federica Pellegrini (Italy) 1:52.98 (2009) Australian Record: Ariarne Titmus 1:54.27 (2019) Olympic QT: 1:56.82

State Open NSW 2021

TRACK START: Emma McKeon all poise as she demonstrates the perfect track start. Photo Courtesy: Nina Beilby (Swimming NSW).

Preview: Led by three-time Australian Championship winner and 2019 World Championship silver medallist Ariarne Titmus (St Peters Western, QLD; Coach Dean Boxall) and four-time winner and Rio bronze medallist Emma McKeon (Griffith University, Gold Coast) will top the bill here – in the race for individual places and to be part of the4x200m freestyle relay team that won the 2019 World Championship in world record breaking time. Throw those relay girls Madi Wilson (Marion, SA) and Brianna Throssell (UWA West Coast) and heat swimmers Leah Neale (Chandler – Vince Raleigh), Kia Melverton (TSS Aquatics – The Southport School – Gold Coast; Coach: Chris Nesbit), Carla Buchanan (Rackley Coach Shaun Crow) and Mikayla Sheridan (USC Spartans – University of Sunshine Coast; Coach Chris Mooney) the Pan Pac (2018) 4x200m freestyle gold medallist. Then there are young guns Lani Pallister (Griffith University, Gold Coast; Coaches Michael Bohl/Janelle Pallister), Mollie O’Callaghan (St Peters Western, QLD) and backstroking’s new wonder girl Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans – University of Sunshine Coast) and it will be a race for the ages.

DAY 4, 200m butterfly

200m butterfly

WORLD RECORD: Liu Zige (CHN) 2:01.81; AUSTRALIAN RECORD: Jess Schipper 2:03.41 (2009); Olympic QT: 2:08.43


FULL THROSSELL: WA swim queen Brianna Throssell in full cry in the fly. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Preview: Brianna Throssell (UWA West Coast Coach Mick Palfrey) an Olympic finalist in Rio has been 2:06.58 at the Rio Trials in Adelaide in 2016 and is a class act who will not die wondering here. Won her first National title on the Gold Coast in 2021 and backed up to take the 200m fly at the Sydney Open Meet. Knows what it’s like to swim in the 2:06s and that’s what it’s going to take to go 1-2 in this event. Has been on the road for two months from an “at times” locked down WA, training in SE Qld under coach Mick Palfrey as they prepare for a second Olympic campaign. And there’s a new player on the blocks in the 200m butterfly in the countdown to the June Olympic Trials with Brisbane 17-year-old schoolgirl Elizabeth Dekkers (Newmarket Racers Coaches Steve and Bob Miller) throwing her togs into a butterfly ring that is steeped in the proudest traditions of swimming in Australia.


DEKK THE HAllS: Elizabeth Dekkers will be one to watch in Adelaide. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media.

Dekkers wasted no time staking another claim for Tokyo, swimming the fourth fastest time in the world this year at the Australian Age with her 2:07.25 (8th fastest in the world for 2021) on the rain swept Gold Coast on the first night of the meet to break her own 16 years Australian and Australian All-Comers records– ripping 0.57 off her own previous Australian marks of 2:07.82 set at the Queensland State Championships in December. It was the same time she also clocked to finish second to Throssell on the Gold Coast. The only other swimmer in the field to have swum under 2:07 is Commonwealth Games silver medallist and the winner of this event for the previous two Australian Championships in 2018 and 2019, Laura Taylor (TSS Aquatic, QLD) who has been 2:06.80 at the 2018 Trials. Also include Meg Bailey (Hunter Coach Adam Kable) who has deferred retirement to swim on to the Tokyo Trials and who comes in as the fourth fastest seed on 2:08.94. You get the impression the last 25 metres of this final will be telling the story of tickets to Tokyo.

DAY 5, Wednesday June 16

100m freestyle

 WORLD RECORD: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 51.71; AUSTRALIAN RECORD: Cate Campbell 52.03 (2018); Olympic QT: 53.31

Bombo Quarry Landscape

LAUNCH PAD: Cate Campbell takes off in Sydney. Photo Courtesy: Nina Beilby (Swimming NSW).

Preview: Seven-time National champion and former world record holder Cate Campbell (Knox Pymble, NSW) went into this year’s Australian Championship final unbeaten since 2013 and came out second to the ever present Emma McKeon (Griffith Uni, QLD) who has a best time of 52.41, which places her in the top 25 all time. On current 2021 world rankings it’s Cate Campbell (52.43 swum in her heat at the 2021 Aust. Champs) from McKeon on top (with her winning Aust Champs time of 52.46) and the constantly improving Madi Wilson (Marion, SA; coach Peter Bishop) 6th (53.40); Bronte Campbell 11th on 53.62 and enter the 16-year-old “X-Factor” Mollie O’Callaghan (St Peters Western, QLD; coach Dean Boxall). “Mollie O” lowered Cate Campbell’s Qld All-Comers 16 years 100m freestyle record of 54.69 to 54.65 in her age group heats of the 2020 Qld State Open Championships – a record that had lasted 12 years – before lowering it again in the final to 54.25 that night – and then to a staggering 53.93 to finish second to Emma McKeon (52.46) the following night in a sizzling open final and she has since bettered that to 53.78 at the Australian Championships – certainly the up-and-comer to watch. Apart from the top two spots for the individual places it will be a red hot go to be part of the defending Olympic gold medal winning relay team.

DAY 6, Thursday June 17

200m backstroke

WORLD RECORD: Regan Smith (USA) 2:03.35; AUSTRALIAN RECORD: Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans, QLD) 2:04.31. (Third fastest swimmer in history – fourth fastest time ever swum and five of the fastest 15 times ever swum).

Preview: Kaylee McKeown tops the world rankings for 2020-21 with her latest offering coming in the Sydney Open meet where she set a new Australian record – where the 2019 World Championship silver medallist and world short course record holder recorded the fourth fastest time in history with he 2:04.31. It makes her the third fastest swimmer ever behind world record holder Regan Smith and 2012 Olympic champion Missy Franklin. Amongst her rivals here will be three-time world champion (twice in this event 2015 and 2017) Emily Seebohm (Griffith University, Coach Michael Bohl). Her winning time from the 2017 World Championships 2:05.68 who is the previous Australian record before McKeown’s recent assault but she remains the 7th fastest swimmer in history. While Minna Atherton (Moreton Bay, coach David Lush) has battled some shoulder problems this season but she is the silver medallist in the 100 m backstroke from the 2019 Worlds in Gwangju and the World SC record holder over 100m who finished 2020 at #4 in the world with her 2:07.86 and with a pb of 2:06.82 so she too is sure to be on the money here. Sure to be breathing down their necks with be “Mollie O” – the kid from St Peters Western (2:11.03) Mollie O’Callaghan who is on the move.