Olympics-Australia’s McKeown breaks Rice’s 400 medley record

By Thomson Reuters Apr 18, 2024 | 7:34 AM

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Kaylee McKeown broke Stephanie Rice’s long-standing Australian record in the 400 metres individual medley with a scintillating swim on Thursday but confirmed she would not chase a medal in the event at the Paris Olympics.

A day after breaking Rice’s 200 IM record at the Australian Open Championships, McKeown took down her 400 mark from the super-suit era with a swim of four minutes 28.22 seconds, the fourth fastest all-time in the gruelling event.

Only Canada’s world record holder Summer McIntosh (4:25.87) and Hungarian medley great Katinka Hosszu have swum faster.

McKeown, the reigning Olympic 100 and 200m backstroke champion, said on Wednesday she would bid for the 200 IM title in Paris.

The 400 IM, however, is not on the table.

“Nope. One and done. That’s me,” McKeown said at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre after winning her second title of the meet.

McKeown, the 100m backstroke world record holder, skipped the event on Thursday, paving the way for team mate Mollie O’Callaghan to win in 58.09 seconds, smashing her previous personal best by more than three-tenths of a second.

It was O’Callaghan’s second title, having beaten a world class field for the 100m freestyle crown on Wednesday.

O’Callaghan will be among the favourites to win 100 and 200m freestyle gold at Paris but her rapid improvement in the backstroke strengthens Australia’s hand in the medley relays.

Olympic champion Zac Stubblety-Cook won a thriller in the men’s 200m breaststroke final, edging Japan’s Ippei Watanabe with a time of 2:07.50.

Stubblety-Cook held the 200m breaststroke world record and world title until both were swiped by China’s Qin Haiyang (2:05.48) at Fukuoka last year.

“I had a taste of the top,” said the 25-year-old Queenslander.

“You get to the top and realise how good it is. You desperately want to get back there.”

Young gun Flynn Southam edged out Australian team mate Elijah Winnington for the men’s 200m freestyle title with a personal best of 1:46.11.

The rising 18-year-old helped Australia win the 100m freestyle relay at Fukuoka last year and will target a spot on the 200m programme at Olympic trials in June.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Toby Davis)