Olympic champion Kaylee McKeown blitzed to the 100m backstroke title at the Australian swimming championships Tuesday, with fellow world record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook also throwing down the gauntlet in the 200m breaststroke.
McKeown, who set a new world record over 200m last month, touched in a sizzling 57.90 seconds as she builds to the world championships in Japan in July.
She now owns the two fastest times this year ahead of key challenger, American Regan Smith.
The 21-year-old was always in charge at Queensland’s Gold Coast, but was pushed hard by Mollie O’Callaghan, who posted a personal best 58.42 a day after winning the 100m freestyle crown.
“The last 25 was definitely testing, the legs burning, but I love racing and I love the feeling of that burn,” said McKeown, who won 100m and 200m backstroke gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
Asked what she planned to focus on in the lead-up to the world championships, she replied: “Just keep training hard, it’s not a secret.”
Olympic champion Stubblety-Cook was also on fire, hitting the wall in 2:09.03, nearly three seconds outside his own world record set at the same event in 2022. But it was still the quickest this year.
“Bringing it home is my strength and I just need to stick to that and enjoy the last lap,” he said after again putting his foot to the floor over the final 50m to pull away.
Stubblety-Cook won the 100m breaststroke title on Monday.
In other events, Shayna Jack won the women’s 50m splash and dash in 24.45 ahead of Meg Harris (24.55). Veteran Cate Campbell came third in an encouraging 24.88 at her first major meet since the Tokyo Olympics.
Olympic 50m freestyle champion Emma McKeon opted out to focus on the 200m butterfly, an event not usually part of her lineup but which she wanted to swim to help build her fitness.
She came third behind winner Elizabeth Dekkers, who touched in a fast 2:06.55.
In the men’s 200m freestyle, 19-year-old Kai Taylor (1:46.65) edged 17-year-old Flynn Southam as a new young guard emerges.
Veteran Kyle Chalmers, the 2016 Olympics 100m free champion, swam the morning heats but failed to show for the final.
Teenager Jenna Forrester stormed to the women’s 400m medley title in 4:35.05, the second best this year, ahead of American great Katie Ledecky but behind Canadian world record holder Summer McIntosh.
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