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Kaylee McKeown swims second-fastest 200m backstroke ever at Australia Olympic Trials

Australian Kaylee McKeown swam her third historic time in four days, recording the second-fastest 200m backstroke in history at the Australia Olympic Trials on Thursday.

McKeown clocked 2 minutes, 3.30 seconds in Brisbane, missing her own world record by 16 hundredths of a second.

“To be honest with you, I’m just happy to still be swimming around that time, not many people in the world are doing that at the moment,” she said, according to Swimming Australia. “You’re putting your heart on the line, you’ve done months worth of hard training ... and you just want to do yourself proud.

“And with that comes nerves unfortunately.”

Earlier this week, McKeown won the 100m back in the second-fastest time in history and the 200m individual medley in the fourth-fastest time in history (and world’s best time in nearly eight years).

McKeown, 22, is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 100m and 200m back, a world champion in both events and the world record holder in both events.

In the 200m IM, she took silver at the 2022 Worlds, then was disqualified after her semifinal at the 2023 Worlds for an illegal turn.

At the Paris Olympics, her primary challenger in each event could be an American. The U.S. Olympic Trials start Saturday (broadcast schedule here).

Regan Smith is the second-fastest woman in history in the 100m and 200m backstrokes and took silver to McKeown in both events at the 2023 World Championships.

Kate Douglass is the two-time reigning world champion in the 200m IM.

On Aug. 2 at the Olympics, the women’s 200m back final is at 8:39 p.m. local time. The women’s 200m IM semifinals start at 9:34 p.m.

Also Thursday, Ariarne Titmus won the 800m free in 8:14.06, which is 1.11 seconds off Katie Ledecky’s best time this year.

“Being completely honest, I’m pretty disappointed with the swim, but I get another chance in Paris to try and do better,” Titmus, who shattered the 200m free world record on Wednesday, said on Australia’s Nine network.

The 800m free final at the U.S. trials is June 22.

Canadian Summer McIntosh is the world’s fastest woman this year (8:11.39), but she is not expected to swim the 800m free in Paris.