AT THE TRIALS: Kaylee McKeown during the Australian Swimming Trials at the Gold Coast.
AT THE TRIALS: Kaylee McKeown during the Australian Swimming Trials at the Gold Coast. DARREN ENGLAND

Experienced campaigner lauds young gun's approach to racing

SWIMMING: Two-time Olympic gold medallist Melanie Wright believes rising star Kaylee McKeown boasts composure and focus that belies her age.

The 16-year-old heads into her first Commonwealth Games campaign as the youngest member of the Australian swim team.

She's set to get her meet started with the 400m individual medley on Thursday, with her more favoured backstroke events to come.

Retired Wright, who experienced multiple international meets, says the University of the Sunshine Coast athlete appears to be a true competitor.

"It's not just the talent. She's got the head on her shoulders as well, which is always the key ingredient," she said. "Not all of them can make it to the top but she's certainly showing that she's got that mental side of things."

McKeown showed as much when she toppled reigning 200m backstroke champion Emily Seebohm at the national selection trials on the Gold Coast last month.

"A lot of people at that age can line up against the world champion and go 'oh my gosh I'm never going to beat her' but Kaylee just goes out there and does her thing," Wright said.

"She focuses on her race and puts together the best race she can possibly do and let's the result take care of itself and that's the best way to do it because then your never psyched out or deterred by who you're racing.

"In swimming, all you can do is the best you can do and you can't control what anyone else does and she does that so well and to do that so well at her age is a huge I think."

Kaylee could be considered a possible medal threat in the 400m IM after finishing behind Blair Evans at the trials.

Wright, who snared relay gold at the last Commonwealth Games in a then-world record time, knows many of the USC athletes well. Leah Neale will be in action on day one, in the women's 200m freestyle, after finishing third at the trials.

"Whether or not, she can get on the podium it will be tough but she's certainly capable of it," Wright said.

She could also compete in the 4x200m relay.



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