After two straight nights of world records in the 50m and 100m backstroke, Australia’s Kaylee McKeown set the World Cup record on Sunday in the 200m backstroke at 2:04.81, securing her third triple crown of the World Cup on the final night of the 2023 World Aquatics Swimming World Cup in Budapest, in Hungary.
McKeown’s time was quicker than she was the previous two weeks, but off her own world record of 2:03.14 set earlier this year. She was able to break her own World Cup Record, however, that she set last week in Athens at 2:06.02.
“I really wasn’t expecting this result,” McKeown said. “It’s lovely and it’s a great experience to take away from these world cups. It gives me extra motivation and some money from those last PBs. My coach said to be sure not to get in my own way and just pick yourself up in that third 50.Triple World Backstroke Champion, Kaylee McKeown
“It’s really nice to bring these results back home to Australia. We can’t always be thinking about the Olympics because it can be overwhelming, so I often wake up thinking about training.”
Coached by Michael Bohl, McKeown secured the overall World Cup crown with 177.4 points by virtue of her wins added to her two world records as she finished ahead of Hong Kong, China’s Siobhan Haughey (166.4) and China’s Zhang Yufei (166.2).
This concludes an impressive 2023 for McKeown, who set three world records and won all three backstroke gold medals at the World Championships as she shifts her attention to next summer’s Olympics in Paris, where she is the defending champion in both the 100m and 200m backstroke.
“My confidence level is probably where it was after this summer’s World Championships. I still have a lot to do mentally and physically. If you are not learning you are not growing, so I have to look for those 1% percenters that make a difference in my swimming.”
Zhang Yufei Gives the 100m Butterfly World Record a Scare
Zhang had probably the most impressive swim of the entire day in the Hungarian capital with a win in the 100m butterfly at 56.13, which was just 0.01 off her gold medal winning swim from the World Championships in July. She went out under world record pace, but couldn’t match the back end
“I really liked racing the World Cup events, and was happy to win,” Zhang said. “The 200 is so much worse, but I am happy to win the 100 in Budapest. I hope to come back and race here again in the World Cup.”
Zhang still has the four fastest times in the world this year.
Siobhan Haughey had a solid swim in the 100m freestyle with a 52.24, just off her 52.0 Cup record set two weeks ago in Berlin as she swam the fifth fastest time in the world this year as she holds three of the five fastest times in this event.
“This past month has been an amazing time in just a month of racing,” Haughey said. “It’s been really tiring, but it’s the last stop in Budapest and I was able to swim some best times. I think I am in a better position than I thought I would be. It definitely gives me confidence and it sets me up really nicely for next year in my some of my big races.”
“I am taking a week off and enjoy my time out of the pool and by the time I come back I will be recharged.”
Haughey won her third straight 100m freestyle to secure second place overall, taking down the world record holder Sarah Sjostrom in the same pool she set the global mark in six years ago, as the Swede finished second tonight at 53.25.
“Overall second place,” Haughey said. “I knew it would be really close, and I wasn’t thinking too much about it, but my coaches were telling me, ‘if you do this…’ and I said ‘that’s too much, please just let me focus on my racing.’ I am happy that I am done racing.”
Australia’s Lani Pallister was able to close out her World Cup tour with a triple crown and a World Cup record in the 800m freestyle at 8:15.11, lowering her own best time to put her fourth in the world for 2023 and seventh all-time as she took her own personal best from 8:17 at the start of the World Cup down to 8:15.
This is a good sign for Pallister as she has never qualified for an Olympic Games and looks to be in a good spot to take a run at Paris qualification.
Photo Caption: Australian swim star Kaylee McKeown was the talk of the town after closing the season having set three world records and won all three backstroke gold medals by the final night of the 2023 World Aquatics Swimming World Cup in Budapest. Photo: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics
Original Copy: Andy Ross, World Aquatics Correspondent