Background image
Kaylee McKeown bio

Kaylee McKeown

Age

23

Place of Birth

Redcliffe, QLD

Hometown

Caboolture, QLD

Senior Club

Griffith University

Coach

Michael Bohl

Olympic History

Tokyo 2020

Paris 2024

High School

Pacific Lutheran College, Sunshine Coast

Career Events

Swimming Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay

Swimming Women's 100m Backstroke

Swimming Women's 200m Backstroke

Swimming Women's 4 x 100m Medley Relay

 

Kaylee's Story

At just 15-years-old Kaylee McKeown joined her older sister Taylor on the Dolphins swim team, as one of their youngest members.

Kaylee, who describes Taylor as one of her heroes, first marked her presence on the international swimming scene in 2017, when she qualified and finished fourth in the final of the World Championships 200m backstroke event.

Continued strong performances were lodged at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where she finished fourth in the 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke in front of a home crowd.

The rising star went on to compete at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, where she claimed gold in the 50m backstroke, silver in the 100m backstroke and 4x100m medley, and bronze in the 200m backstroke.

A year later, Kaylee again found herself on the podium at the 2019 World Championships, with the Queensland native winning her first major international medal earning silver in the women’s 200m backstroke and the women’s 4x100m medley relay.

It may be that the deferment of the Tokyo Olympics because of COIVD-19 suited Kaylee because there is no doubt she came of age as a formidable international competitor in 2021. In the span of one weekend at the Sydney Open, she established new national backstroke records in the three disciplines, 50m, 100m and 200m.

 

With her confidence soaring, she went on to break the 100m backstroke world record at the Australian trials for the Tokyo Games. She also held the fastest time in the 200m individual medley going into Tokyo, but decided to drop this event at the Olympics to take some of the strain off her still hectic program.

It proved a masterstroke, with coach Chris Mooney able to focus her attention solely on the backstroke events, which she swept, not only winning the 100m and 200m backstroke gold – Australia’s first in both events – but also the women’s medley relay in which she swam the lead-off leg. She also claimed bronze in the mixed medley relay.

There were more triumphs in 2022 – the 200m backstroke world title in Budapest, the backstroke double at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games amid the four gold and six medals she won there, before ending her year’s work with victory in the 200m backstroke in Melbourne during the world short course meet.

Kaylee carried her strong form into 2023, starting the year with a world record swim in the 200m backstroke on the opening night of the NSW Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

She clocked a time of 2.03.14, clipping 0.21 seconds off American Regan Smith’s previous record set at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju.

 

 

Four months later, at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Kaylee experienced both the desperate lows and euphoric highs of international sport in the space of just 48 hours. In tears on the opening night, two days later she had stamped herself as arguably the greatest backstroker Australia has produced.

Kaylee was controversially disqualified for what was deemed an incorrect turn during her 200m individual medley semi-final. Head coach Rohan Taylor criticised the decision and the Australian team submitted a formal protest, but it was dismissed.

Kaylee was devastated, but was able to channel her frustration into the 100m backstroke, winning her maiden world title in a time of 57.53, ahead of Americans Smith (57.78) and Katharine Berkoff (58.25). Trailing by 0.08 seconds at the turn, she powered home to win comfortably.

 

By the end of the meet, Kaylee had become the first swimmer in history to achieve the backstroke treble, adding the 50m and 100m titles. Before her, no woman had done the 50m-100m backstroke double, let alone the treble.

Her winning time in the 50m dash, 27.08, established an Oceania and Commonwealth record.

Kaylee sealed the treble when she roared to victory in the 200m backstroke, her strongest event.

She finished in a time of 2:03.85, to beat American Smith, who finished more than a second behind despite leading early.

"That means a lot. I didn't think I'd be able to do that tonight, especially after a long week," Kaylee said. "That's the best thing about sport, you have to focus on your own race, and that is exactly what I did tonight."

In October 2023, Kaylee broke world records in the 50m backstroke (28.86) and the 100m backstroke (57.33) at a World Cup event in Budapest, Hungary.

She was dominant at the 2024 Australian championships on the Gold Coast, winning gold in the 200m medley, 400m medley, 50m backstroke and 400m backstroke.

In the 100m backstroke, Kaylee is so dominant that she holds all the top five times in history and all but one of the top 10. On the second night of the Australian Olympic trials in Brisbane in June, she won the event with the second-fastest time in history, a blistering 57.41. It was her second qualification in as many days, after setting a personal best in the women’s 200m individual medley on the opening night of the trials. She also won the 200m backstroke.

Read More