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Kaylee McKeown drops her best event, wins silver in 200 IM at world titles

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Kaylee McKeown has grabbed Australia’s second individual medal of the world swimming championships — a 200m medley silver — but only after a shock decision not to compete in her best event.

The triple Olympic champion caused a surprise in Budapest by ruling herself out of Sunday morning’s preliminaries of the 100m backstroke, the event she dominated in Tokyo and the distance at which she holds the world record for that stroke.

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Because the semi-finals were taking place less than 20 minutes before the medley final later in the afternoon, McKeown took the decision to throw all her efforts into proving herself a global champion all-rounder.

However, even though the 20-year-old had to give best to keep up with American star Alex Walsh, a dominant winner in 2 minutes 07.13 seconds, McKeown was adamant that the decision to go for the pressure-free, medley option had paid off.

“I wasn’t really expecting to come up and podium tonight. It was more just getting the international experience,” said the Queenslander, who was 1.44 seconds adrift of Walsh, clocking 2:08.57, but ahead of US bronze medallist Leah Hayes, who set a world junior record of 2:08.91.

“At the start of this year, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be doing Worlds or Commonwealth Games because of my shoulder injury, so I’m really proud of myself that I’ve managed to get here and gather the momentum to get on the podium in my first event.”

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