Kaylee McKeown scares own world record again, Kyle Chalmers qualifies despite wild injury scare

For the second time in three nights, Kaylee McKeown gave her world record a shake-up at the Australian swimming trials and signaled she is ready to defend her backstroke golds in Paris.

McKeown finished the 200 backstroke in 2:03.30: she was ahead of the world record for most of the race but hit the wall just 0.16 off her overall mark.

Seventeen-year-old Jaclyn Barclay finished second in 2:07.88 to qualify for her first Olympics after taking silver at the World Championships in Doha earlier this year.

Emily Seebohm placed fifth in 2:10.80, narrowly missing out on her remarkable attempt to become the first Australian swimmer to compete in five Olympics, just eight months after giving birth to her first child.

McKeown was just 0.08 off her world record in the 100 backstroke, but is in the box to defend her backstroke double in Paris.

Her fierce American rival Regan Smith will have the chance to respond to US trials next week.

“It doesn’t bother me at all to be honest,” McKeown told reporters of missing his world record and personal best by a whisker.

“I’m just happy to still be swimming at that time. There aren’t many people in the world who are doing this right now. There’s one that comes to mind and it’s getting up and running.

“I’m nervous to see what she (Smith) will do, but I’m excited for the fight in Paris.”

Asked how he could improve, if at all, McKeown said: “It’s something I have to work on with my coach, and it’s something I don’t want to share with the rest of the world.

“I’m sure there are people out there who have secrets, but I just want to enjoy these Olympics. Last time I was probably a little too young to enjoy it, so this time I want to go and have fun.”

McKeown, 22, lowered his own national record in the 200m medley on the opening night of the trials and heads to Paris as a gold medal contender in all three of his events.

Already with three Olympic golds to her name from Tokyo, McKeown could return from Paris as arguably Australia’s greatest individual athlete if she wins a trio of golds.

Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose, Ian Thorpe and Shane Gould have all won three individual gold medals in their Olympic careers.

Emma McKeon has Australia’s most overall Olympic medals with 11. She and Thorpe lead all finishers with five gold medals overall.

Chalmers leaves for third Olympics, reveals injury fears

Kyle Chalmers is preparing for his third Olympics, winning the 100 freestyle in 47.75 and qualifying for Paris.

The 25-year-old won gold as a teenager in Rio and was beaten by American superstar Caeleb Dressell in Tokyo.

Chalmers won the 100m freestyle at every international meet, but revealed he almost couldn’t get up on the blocks during trials.

He told reporters after the race that he needed four cortisone shots in his back less than two weeks before testing after a day of rest took his back.

“I did some landscaping on the Sunny Coast and decided I wouldn’t go to work on Friday and rest up for rehearsals,” Chalmers said.

“I spent the day lying on the sofa, which my body is clearly not used to. I felt quite stiff and then on Saturday morning I tried to take a dip and then everything spasmed and stopped.

“I saw physiotherapists and doctors and the best thing I could do was take four cortisone shots in my lower back and try to move again.

“It’s a really difficult thing to deal with so close to the tests, which makes you completely change your running style.

“I’ve had ankle and shoulder problems in my career, when you have one you can use the other three limbs to fix it, while the back controls every aspect of your daily life and obviously in the pool – the start, the turn, swimming – has a huge impact.

“I’m just grateful to be here racing today and to be on the mend again. I know I can do it well in six weeks. But having only 10 days is probably not a huge amount of time.

“I’ve been going to the physio four times a day since I’ve been here, just trying to loosen and activate everything so I can swim.

“I think I put on a pretty brave face to get through it. It was definitely challenging to just get in and out of bed and start the day. It’s something that sticks in your mind.

“I had back problems and I really dealt with them in 2018-2019. I have bulging discs in my back and a slightly degenerated spine. Over the course of my career I have had 10 cortisone shots in my back.

“Mentally and emotionally I’m in a very, very good place, so I’m able to overcome adversity and challenges that have been thrown at me. All I had to do tonight was swim two laps in the pool, not that hard in the grand scheme of things.

“Mentally it hasn’t been that bad, it’s more of a physical pain.”

William Yang finished second in 48.08 and is expected to swim the 100m freestyle in Paris despite being 0.02 off the Swimming Australia qualifying time.

The Butterfly duo secures their Olympic spot

Lizzie Dekkers (2:06.01) and Abbey Connor (2:06.82) flew under the qualifying time in the 200 meter butterfly to secure their place at their first Olympics.

Dekkers, 20, was under the FINA qualifier at the Tokyo trials but was not chosen because she did not meet Swimming Australia’s fastest standard among the world’s best eight.

He has since won Commonwealth gold and silver at last year’s world championships and his time is the third fastest in the world this year.

And there’s more…

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