Backstroke queen McKeown eyes 200m berth at Olympic trials

MELBOURNE : World record holder Kaylee McKeown cruised into the women’s 200m backstroke final at Australia’s Olympic trials on Thursday, while former Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers set the pace in the men’s 100m freestyle heats.

McKeown has already secured Olympic places in the 200m individual medley and 100m backstroke, winning both finals at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre with sizzling times.

Victory in the 200m backstroke should also be a formality for the Olympic champion, who set a time of two minutes and 8.83 seconds on Thursday, more than five seconds adrift of her world record (2:03.14).

Eight months after giving birth, 32-year-old Emily Seebohm will bid for one of the two backstroke berths in the evening session’s final along with Hannah Fredericks, Iona Anderson and Jaclyn Barclay.

Chalmers, the world champion from Fukuoka, clocked 48.39 seconds in the 100m freestyle, edging William Yang and third-placed Flynn Southam.

A day after smashing the 200m freestyle world record, Ariarne Titmus will be top seed in the 800m final later on Thursday ahead of Lani Pallister.

The pair took both quota places in the 400m and may do the same in the 800m.

Titmus, the Olympic 200 and 400m champion, grabbed the 800m silver behind U.S. great Katie Ledecky three years ago at Tokyo and showed she remains a force in the longer distance with a bronze medal at Fukuoka.

Abbey Connor surprised with a personal best swim of 2:06.43 to be fastest in the 200m butterfly heats, more than a second quicker than Fukuoka silver medallist Elizabeth Dekkers.

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