McKeon creates history for Australia in pool at worlds
EMMA McKeon has become the first Australian woman to win six medals at a single world swimming championships after contributing to a bronze medal in the 4 X 100m medley relay on the last night of competition in Budapest.
McKeon ended her campaign with four silver and two bronze medals and said her next ambition was to convert at least one of them to gold, particularly in the 200m freestyle.
She shared the silver medal in that event this week with American superstar Katie Ledecky, who also finished the meet with six medals, five golds and a silver.
The previous best tally by an Australian woman was five, shared by Libby Trickett and Alicia Coutts.
McKeon, 23, has drawn even with Ian Thorpe, who also won six medals at the 2001 world championships, and is one shy of Michael Klim's record of seven from 1998.
"I wasn't even thinking about medals but I didn't think I would be on the podium six times this week,'' she said.
"I think now I will have a break and then get back in the pool and aspire to hopefully change it (her 200m freestyle silver) to a gold in the coming years because that's what I want to achieve.
"It just motivates me even more because I've seen how close I was in that race. I just died in that last little bit. Thinking about that is going to motivate me.''
McKeon said she felt she had handled her huge program well and expected to continue to take on such ambitious schedules in the future, starting with the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April.
"The training I do is what allows me to go day after day and night after night,''she said.
"I knew I would be able to handle it but there are definitely things I've learned this week and things I can improve on for Comm Games and worlds in the coming years.''
McKeon had had a welcome day off before returning for the medley relay but she still had some fatigue in her limbs as she swam the butterfly leg of the medley relay
"I thought I would be a little bit quicker than that but I gave it my all and after an eight-day meet I'm pretty happy with it,'' she said.
World 200m backstroke champion Emily Seebohm led off the Australian relay in her best 100m time of the week (58.53sec), handing off to breaststroke Taylor McKeown, who set her fastest ever split of 1:06.29, before McKeon took her turn (56.78sec).
It was left to injured anchorwoman Bronte Campbell to maintain Australia's third place under pressure from Canada and Sweden and she fought to keep the team on the podium, stopping the clock in 3:54.29 (a 52.69sec split).
The winning US team set a new world record of 3:51.55, ahead of second-placed Russia (3:53.38).
Earlier, Campbell finished sixth in the 50m freestyle final in 24.58sec, despite an ongoing shoulder injury.
The defending champion in this event, she confessed earlier this week that she had done almost no specific training for the one-lap sprint and it would be a "lucky dip'' for her.
Swedish sprint sensation Sarah Sjostrom collected her third gold medal of the week, winning the final in 23.69sec, just 0.02sec outside the world record she set in the semi-finals.
Former Olympic and world champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands claimed the silver medal (23.85sec) ahead of new world 100m freestyle champion Simone Manuel (23.97sec).
Sjostrom has lifted the freestyle sprints to a new level in Budapest and Campbell is eager to go home, get her shoulder right and begin the chase.
"I want to be competitive on the international stage. It's good to be a part of finals but placing sixth when people are going almost a second faster than you is not where I want to be in the future,'' she said.
"Competition creates innovation which creates faster and faster swimming so that's what I'm going to have to go home and do. The faster people go the more motivated I get.''
The dominant US team won four of the eight gold medals on offer in the final session and ended with a record world championships tally of 38 medals.
In a case of "the king is dead, long live the king'', 20-year-old Caeleb Dressel has arrived the year after Michael Phelps departed the stage.
The US victory in the men's medley relay delivered to Dressel his seventh gold medal of the week (50m and 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly and four relays), which equalled Phelps' record tally from 2007.
The Florida native established himself as the sport's next great male star.
Olympic champion Lily King completed the sprint breaststroke double with a 29.40sec world record to win 50m final.
New medley king Chase Kalisz followed up with a championships record of 4:05.90 to win the 400m individual medley, not mean feat when it was another Phelps record.
In the last race of his career French backstroke champion Camille Lacourt went out on top, winning his third consecutive 50m world title in 24.36sec.
Hometown favourite Katinka Hosszu sent the crowd home happy by retaining her world title in the 400m individual medley in 4:29.33.