McKeown hits World Cup jackpot after record-breaking heroics
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Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown completed an extraordinary weekend in Budapest with a third race win and the title of overall women’s World Cup champion earning her a big payday.
The 22-year-old was again untouchable in her third backstroke triumph of the weekend on Sunday (Monday AEDT), adding the 200 metres crown to the 100m and 50m titles she had claimed with world records over the previous two days in Hungary.
Such was her domination that there was almost a hint of disappointment that the Queenslander couldn’t make it three global records in three days after her landmarks of 26.86 seconds in the 50m and 57.33 in the 100m.
Her consolation in the 200m was a World Cup record of two minutes, 04.81 seconds, which lowered the mark she had set the previous weekend in Athens but didn’t threaten her own world record of 2:03.14 set in Sydney in March.
But a perfect record of nine backstroke wins in nine events – while breaking World Cup records in every event in Berlin, Athens and now Budapest – ensured the Redcliffe ace took the $US100,000 ($158,000) bonus for the overall series winner.
With more prizemoney scooped for her 10 race victories in total – she also won the 200m individual medley in Berlin – it has been a hugely lucrative 16-day spell for McKeown.
Kaylee McKeown competing in the 50m race in Budapest.Credit: Getty
“I really wasn’t expecting this result. It’s lovely and it’s a great experience to take away from these World Cups,” McKeown said. “It gives me extra motivation– and some money from those last PBs.
“It’s really nice to bring these results back home to Australia. We can’t always be thinking about the Olympics because it can be overwhelming, so I often wake up thinking about training.”
The Michael Bohl-coached swimmer showed no signs of fatigue as she reached the first turn 0.01 of a second ahead of world record schedule in the 200m.
But although she couldn’t keep up the assault on her Sydney mark, she still destroyed her opposition, with 200m runner-up Anastasiya Shkurdai, of Belarus, finishing almost five seconds behind.
The bad news for her opposition is that McKeown has no intention of easing up with the Olympics in sight.
“My confidence level is probably where it was after this summer’s world championships. I still have a lot to do mentally and physically. If you are not learning you are not growing, so I have to look for those one-percenters that make a difference in my swimming,” she said.
Another stellar Australian performance came from Sydneysider Lani Pallister, who won the women’s 800m freestyle by more than seven seconds, and broke her own World Cup record in the process. She finished in eight minutes, 15.11 seconds, improving on the 8:16.82 she recorded in Berlin.
Australian sisters Bronte Campbell (fourth in 53.42 seconds) and Cate Campbell (fifth in 53.43) couldn’t get into the frame of the 100m freestyle, with Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey (52.24) outpacing Swedish great Sarah Sjöström (53.25) for the title by more than a second.
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