Australian swimming sensation Kaylee McKeown has been named Female Swimmer of the Year after her remarkable performance at the World Aquatics Championships.
McKeown took the championship by storm, breaking records and dominating the competition after securing backstroke golds over 50 metres, 100m, and 200m, making her the first woman to achieve this result.
After receiving the prestigious honour, McKeown revealed that she was “happy” with what she had achieved at the Championships.
“But I have teammates like Ariarne Titmus and Mollie O’Callaghan who have broken world records this week,” McKeown said.
“As proud as I am, I feel like I have should share that (award) with my teammates.
“I never thought in a million years I would be named Swimmer of the Year but it’s pretty cool.”
Kaylee McKeown announced #Fukuoka2023 female swimmer of the meet. ????????
Her clean sweep in the 50/100/200m backstroke events cements her status as the ultimate Backstroke G.O.A.T! ???????? The first woman to achieve this treble in the same stroke at a World Championship. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/x2KbF7he5T
— Australian Swim Team (@DolphinsAUS) July 30, 2023
McKeown’s journey to the top was not without its challenges with the 22-year-old facing disqualification from the 200m individual medley semi-finals after judges determined that she performed an illegal move as she switched from backstroke to breaststroke, a decision she considered “completely unfair”.
However, her disqualification only pushed her to give a stellar performance in the 100-metre backstroke on Tuesday, July 25, something she certainly achieved by not only securing gold but also coming within 0.08 seconds of her own world record.
“I was very, very nervous heading in, probably more so than I have ever been,” McKeown said following the race.
“It was just to real testament myself dealing with what I have over the past few hours.
“Nerves just mean that you care about what you’re doing. When you train so hard for something, you just want it to all come together at the right moment.”
KAYLEE MCKEOWN WINS GOLD! ????
Redemption for Kaylee after clocking a new championship record of 57.53, securing gold in the women’s 100m backstroke final! She was on world record pace with just 20m to go! ????#Fukuoka2023 #WorldAquaticChamps pic.twitter.com/4hnXVYyg3O
— Australian Swim Team (@DolphinsAUS) July 25, 2023
At 57.53 seconds, McKeown narrowly missed her own world record of 57.45, established in Adelaide back in 2021.
In addition to McKeown’s remarkable achievements, the Australians dominated at the Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships. The team amassed a staggering 25 medals in total, including 13 golds, 7 silvers, and 5 bronze.
Not only did they top the gold medal tally but also matched their historical golden high-water mark of 13 set back in 2005 and 2001. Surpassing their fierce rivals, the United States, on the medal table at a prestigious international meet for only the second time since the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Fukuoka 2023 will undoubtedly go down in history as Australia’s best-ever meet. Australia’s collective efforts culminated in an astonishing five world records shattered during the championships. Leading the charge was the young sensation, Mollie O’Callaghan, who etched her name into the record books with four of those incredible achievements. Her most awe-inspiring feat included obliterating the oldest standing record in women’s swimming, seizing the coveted 200m freestyle crown.
“I am just proud of the fact they were able to get up on the big stage and do that,” Swimming Australia’s head coach Rohan Taylor said.