McKeon off to a flying start at FINA World Championship


Australia’s most successful swimmer at the Rio Olympics Emma McKeon has stormed home in the last lap of the women’s 100m butterfly to steal the silver medal and set a new Commonwealth and Australian record on night two of the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest. 

The Brisbane-based, Wollongong-born swimmer stopped the clock at a speedy 56.18 to secure the silver medal behind defending champion and world record holder in the event Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom (55.53).

After equalling Jess Schipper’s Commonwealth record of 56.23 in the semi-final last night, McKeon blew that time out of the water tonight thanks to a fast last lap.

With Sjostrom leading from start to finish, McKeon was third at the turn but came flying home over the top of bronze medallist Kelsi Worrell (USA, 56.37) in the second 50 metres, to get the better of the American at the wall, edging her out by 0.19 of a second.

“That was so good, I’m just glad I could get faster each heat, semi and then final, and do a PB and nearly dip under that 56,” McKeon said.

Coming up against some of the fastest swimmers in the world in all of her events, with the likes of Sjostrom and Ledecky, McKeon said she enjoys the challenge and the chance to constantly push her boundaries. 

“You want to have tough people in your event because it lifts you and it makes you push harder and train harder, and you want to be up with them, so it’s a good thing I think.”

The Michael Bohl coached swimmer said adding some 200m butterfly races to her schedule this year has definitely paid off.

“Doing those 200flys has definitely helped my backend,” McKeon said.

“Last night I did half a second quicker on my backend than I’ve ever done before so, yeah it’s definitely helped, even though it is a long way doing butterfly.” 

The multi-talented star now has two silver medals from the meet after anchoring the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team onto the podium last night.

McKeon will now turn her focus to the 200m freestyle heats tomorrow morning, an event in which she won bronze in Rio.

Joining her behind the blocks will be 16-year-old Ariarne Titmus, racing in her second event for the meet after finishing fourth in the 400m freestyle last night.

In semi-final action…

Women’s 100m Backstroke

World Champion in this event Emily Seebohm will move through as second fastest qualifier for the final of the women’s 100m backstroke after taking out her semi in a time of 58.85.

After less than ideal results for the veteran racer in 2016, Seebohm will be hoping to step up in the final tomorrow night and re-assert her dominance in the event.

With rising Canadian star Kylie Masse qualifying fastest in 58.18, just outside the current world record of 58.12, the title defence will be a tough ask, but Seebohm won’t be backing down.

Fellow Aussie and Dolphins debutant Holly Barratt was 11th overall, hitting the wall in a time of 59.95.

Men’s 100m Backstroke

The men’s 100m backstroke will be a fight to the finish tomorrow with the less than one second separating the top six swimmers.

Australia’s Mitch Larkin, the title holder in the event will progress in sixth spot, with a time of 53.19 with China’s Jiayu Xu the fastest through in 52.44.

Men’s 200m Freestyle

Distance freestyle specialist Mack Horton gave it a red-hot-go in the men’s 200m freestyle semi-final with the silver medallist from the meet already, clocking a new personal best time of 1:46.81.

Horton’s time ranked him 11th overall but he said he will take a lot of learnings from this race moving forward.

“I’ve never really raced that event internationally, so that is a massive learning experience. I definitely want to swim more 200s at this level,” Horton said.

Great Britain’s Duncan Scott and James Guy were the fastest through to the final in 1:45.16 and 1:45.18 respectively.

Women’s 100m Breaststroke

The Australian duo of Taylor McKeown (1:06.93) and Jess Hansen (1:07.21) will both miss a finals berth in the women’s 100m breaststroke after finishing ninth and 13th respectively after the two semi-finals.