Olympics: Kaylee McKeown Last of Three to Set 100 Back Olympic Record

Jul 25, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Kaylee McKeown (AUS) in the women's 100m backstroke heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Kaylee McKeown; Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

Olympics: Kaylee McKeown Last of Three to Set 100 Back Olympic Record

On paper, the women’s 100 backstroke looked like one of the most loaded events in the Tokyo Olympics. In the pool, it was somehow even more fun in prelims Sunday night.

In successive heats, Kylie Masse, then Regan Smith, then Kaylee McKeown took turns downing the Olympic record in the event, the mark finally ending in the hands of McKeown, for now.

Buckle up, because the contenders aren’t messing around.

First up was Masse, who thrashed her heat. The Canadian, who won World Championships in 2017 and 2019, had the entire heat at her feet by the wall, finishing in a time of 58.17. That erased the time set by Emily Seebohm at the 2012 Games at 58.23.

It wasn’t necessarily a record Masse was expecting.

“I was thinking about the whole process and this is one step at a time, so I wanted to put together a good race here,” she said. “The Olympic record is amazing and I’m super happy to have (held the record for) one or two minutes, but it all comes down to the final.”

It proved to be merely the appetizer. Smith was out slightly slower than Masse, but she came back with more speed. Her time of 57.96 granted the former world record holder an Olympic record status for all of three minutes. That’s because McKeown, who this year erased Smith’s world record, did a little more of that in 57.88. McKeown also dropped the 200 IM to focus on the backstroke events.

“I just wanted to come out and swim and those girls put in really solid times,” McKeown said. “It’ll be interesting to see how we go with the semifinals in the morning, but you can just give it your best and hopefully make the final.”

Entertaining as the dynamics of the leading triumvirate are, there are others to fill out the semifinal feed. Among them are Seebohm, who is fifth, a spot behind Kathleen Dawson. Smith’s countrywoman Rhyan White – who swam next to Smith, as Seebohm and McKeown did – is sixth. Masse was next to compatriot Taylor Ruck, who is through in 11th. Kathleen Dawson of Great Britain is lurking in fourth.

Women’s 100 backstroke

  • World record: Kaylee McKeown, Australia, 57.45 (2021)
  • Olympic record: Emily Seebohm, Australia, 58.23 (2012)
  1. Kaylee McKeown, Australia, 57.88
  2. Regan Smith, United States, 57.96
  3. Kylie Masse, Canada, 58.17
  4. Kathleen Dawson, Great Britain, 58.69
  5. Emily Seebohm, Australia, 58.86
  6. Rhyan White, United States, 59.02
  7. Kira Toussaint, Netherlands, 59.21
  8. Margherita Panziera, Italy, 59.74
  9. Peng Xuwei, China, 59.78
  10. Marila Kameneva, Russia, 59.88
  11. Taylor Ruck, Canada, 59.89
  12. Anastasia Gorbenko, Israel, 59.90
  13. Anastasiia Fesikova, Russia, 59.92
  14. Cassie Wild, Great Britain, 59.99
  15. Maaike de Waard, Netherlands, 1:00.03
  16. Anna Konishi, Japan, 1:00.04