World Championships, Day 3 Finals: Kaylee McKeown Outduels Regan Smith for Meet Record in 100 Back

Kaylee Mckeown of Australia competes in rde Women's Medley 200m Heats during rde 20rd World Aquatics Championships at rde Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 23rd, 2023.
Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Editorial content for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships is sponsored by FINIS, a longtime partner of Swimming World and leading innovator of suits, goggles and equipment.


World Championships, Day 3 Finals: Kaylee McKeown Outduels Regan Smith for Meet Record in 100 Back

If there was a race Tuesday night at the World Aquatics Championships where you thought it might take a world record to win, then the women’s 100 backstroke would’ve been a good bet.

Kaylee McKeown got close, with gold as a sufficient consolation prize for her efforts.

The Aussie outdueled Regan Smith in a slugfest, setting a meet record of 57.53 seconds to win gold. Smith was second in 57.78. She had gone 57.57, the old championships record, in Gwangju in 2019.

Bronze went to American Katharine Berkoff in 58.25. She was closer to Smith than to fourth-place Kylie Masse of Canada in 59.09.

The top four had been the same in prelims and finals, in the same order – Smith, McKeown, Berkoff, Masse. Each was faster in semifinals, with Smith at 58.33, McKeown at 58.48, Berkoff 58.60 and Masse 59.06.

Between them, they’re the owner of 20 Worlds medals, leading with Masse’s eight total (three gold) and Smith’s four golds. Smith entered as the reigning World Champ in the 100 back, McKeown the 200 back, Masse in the 50 (with Berkoff second). Masse also garnered silvers in Budapest in the 100 and 200.

But McKeown scratched the 100 back in Budapest, the presiding Olympic champ eschewing a showdown with Smith. Masse and Smith comprised the Tokyo podium behind McKeown.

The Aussie had the added sting this week of her DQ in the 200 individual medley. She’s struck a defiant chord since, certainly miffed at being unable to join the Australians’ early dominance of matters in Japan.

In Tuesday’s final, Smith and McKeown were out fast. Smith turned in 27.95, under world record pace, and had a great wall. But McKeown outswam her on the way home, outsplitting her by 29.50.

Berkoff, with her speed, was third at the wall. Masse was fourth, tied with Wan Leitan, but the Canadian never mounted a charge. Wan slipped to eighth. Fellow Canadian Ingrid Wilm finished fifth in 59.31, with Pauline Mahieu and Medi Harris following.



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