Kaylee McKeown has completed an extraordinary weekend with a third race win and the title of overall women’s World Cup champion bringing her unprecedented riches, further exposing Swimming Australia’s Gina Rinehart mistake.
The 22-year-old Australian swimming star was again untouchable in her third backstroke triumph of the weekend on Sunday, adding the 200m crown to the 100m and 50m titles that she had annexed with world records over the previous two days.
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Such is her mastery that there was almost a frisson of disappointment that the Queenslander couldn’t make it three global marks in three straight days after her landmarks of 26.86 seconds in the 50 and 57.33 in the 100.
Her consolation this time was a World Cup record of 2min 04.81sec, which lowered the mark that she had set the previous weekend in Athens even if it didn’t threaten her own world record of 2:03.14 set in Sydney in March.
But her perfect record of nine backstroke wins in nine events, while breaking World Cup records in every one in Berlin, Athens and now Budapest, ensured the Redcliffe ace took the $US100,000 ($A158,000) bonus for the overall series winner.
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With more prize money scooped for her 10 race victories in total – she also won the 200m individual medley in Berlin – it’s been a hugely lucrative 16-day spell for McKeown.
“I really wasn’t expecting this result. It’s lovely and it’s a great experience to take away from these World Cups,” said McKeown.
“It gives me extra motivation – and some money from those last PBs. 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.”
Kaylee McKeown hit the jackpot. Credit: Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency via Getty Ima
McKeown’s pay day has laid bare Swimming Australia’s woes, with the governing body battling at a time when the stars of the show are hitting the jackpot.
Swimming Australia had been fighting its member associations to adopt World Aquatics (AQUA) reforms in its latest crisis since Rinehart pulled funding in 2021.
She lost faith after hearing from stories of delayed payments and confusion over the invoicing system.
“I still can’t believe Swimming Australia lost the greatest benefactor I’ve seen since Santa Claus,’’ Swimming Queensland chief executive Kevin Hasemann told News Corp last week.
Four months ago swimmers secured a share of the sport’s commercial revenue in a new agreement with Swimming Australia.
“We’re not trying to debilitate the sport by taking money away – we’re trying to share in the success that comes to the sport via the success of the swimmers,” Bronte Campbell said at the time.
In good news for Swimming Australia, it avoided a takeover by World Aquatics on Friday when members voted 8-1 in favour of adopting a new constitution.
Gina Rinehart with Olympic great Michael Klim in 2016 at a time when she was heavily involved with Swimming Australia. Credit: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images
AQUA was alarmed at Australia’s management of the sport and threatened to expel SA if governance reforms weren’t made.
AQUA, after being approached by some high-profile Australian swimmers, were concerned by recent scandals and SA going through a string of presidents and chief executives in recent years.
Global powerbrokers demanded reforms to create a centralised governance system instead of a model in which states and territories held the balance of power.
While the presence of Australian swimmers at global events was never at risk, AQUA warned it would take over management of the sport in the nation if reforms weren’t supported.
“Swimming Australia’s new constitution introduces a range of reforms aimed at delivering a more stable overall environment for the sport and better outcomes from the grassroots and community level through to high-performance,” a statement issued on SA’s behalf said.
“Importantly the new constitution brings Swimming Australia into line with AQUA’s constitutional requirements and the ASC’s good governance requirements and guidelines.”
Australia’s best swimmers are earning a share of the sport’s commercial revenue for the first time. Credit: DAVE HUNT/AAPIMAGE
Under the changes, effective immediately, an athletes’ commission will be created and empowered to nominate a candidate to the SA board.
The number of voting members will be increased from nine to more than 20 and include “a greater voice for athletes”, the statement said.
McKeown, already a bona fide star of the Dolphins, promises to be a face of the swimming cohort well into the future.
After her exploits in the pool in Budapest she has no intention of easing up with the Paris 2024 Olympics in sight.
“My confidence level is probably where it was after this summer’s world championships,” she said.
“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 one percenters that make a difference in my swimming,” she said.
– with 7NEWS
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