Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown breaks 200m backstroke short course world record

Teenage Olympic hopeful Kaylee McKeown has set the ‘virtual’ Australian national short-course swimming championships alight by smashing the six-year-old 200m backstroke world record in Brisbane.

No one was more surprised by her blistering time than 19-year-old McKeown, who clocked 1 minute 58.94 on Saturday to eclipse the 2014 mark of 1:59.23 set by Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu.

“Short course is something we don’t get to do very often so I was excited to see what I could put up after some solid training this year,” McKeown said. “I headed over to my teammates and my coach and they said ‘you just got a world record’ and I was like, ‘what?’. I didn’t actually know until a few minutes later.”

McKeown has her eye on next year’s Tokyo Olympics, having won gold over long course in the 50m, silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m backstroke at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

She went on to claim senior world championship silvers in the 200m backstroke and 4x100m medley in Gwangju, South Korea, last year.

The national short-course championships, which were originally due to be held in Melbourne in October, have moved to a ‘virtual’ platform for 2020.

Instead of lining up alongside each other, swimmers compete at venues in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart in four sessions of finals which began on Thursday and ran until Sunday.

Each event is raced as close to simultaneously as possible and the results sent to a centralised platform, from where the swimmers are ranked to determine their final position.

They will not be awarded a national title, but because the event is run by Swimming Australia any records set can be ratified by world governing body Fina.