USC Spartan’s Kaylee McKeown has risen to become one of the top young guns on the Dolphins team.
At only 19, McKeown has delivered incredible form over the last month breaking the Australian record in the 100m backstroke and setting a new Commonwealth record in the 200m backstroke at the Queensland Long Course Preparation Meet.
Just a few weeks later she set the pool alight, smashing the world short course record in the 200m backstroke at Hancock Prospecting Australian Virtual Short Course – taking nearly half a second of Hungarian superstar Katinka Hosszu’s 2014 record.
McKeown gave credit to her entire USC team and their commitment to training during the COVID period.
“We all found a new level to train at, coming into an atmosphere where everyone wants to be better. This has motivated not just me, but everyone else in the squad to chase those PBs and hit our goals,” she said.
The success of the team at these meets came down to the supportive atmosphere that the squad brings, driving personal achievements and collective friendship.
“Everyone’s there for a purpose and are all there to train hard. We all support one and other and we’re just a really close-knit team.”
Lockdown created a challenging new training environment. To support her consistent high-level performance, McKeown worked on specific areas – nutrition outside of the pool, more effort in the gym and focusing on the one-percenters were key areas of attention.
Emerging from lockdown has sparked excitement amongst McKeown and her teammates, as COVID halted all racing meets.
“We’re just so excited to be back [racing again], as it’s something we haven’t been able to do – so I’ve just really enjoyed putting some solid times up.”
A close friendship and healthy rivalry with fellow Dolphin Minna Atherton helped push both swimmers reach peak performance.
“She’s one of the best competitors I’ve ever raced against, she’s very lovely and bubbly, it’s good that I can travel overseas with one of my close friends and teammates as well. We push each other in the pool which makes it even better. Just that little bit of rivalry there – definitely a healthy rivalry!”
2021 is looking like a busy year for the teenager – with the multiple meets and the Australian Swimming Championships approaching in April. With her race schedule leading into the Olympic trials not yet confirmed, McKeown indicated she still loves the challenge and difficulty of the individual medley event.
“Every 50m you’re changing your stroke – it’s not a normal race where you’re sticking to the same stroke.”
“It’s definitely a hard race, but I like it because it’s so different.”