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Record-breaking McKeown hits World Cup jackpot

Kaylee McKeown has won her third backstroke title in consecutive days in Budapest to seal the World Cup series crown and a $158,000 jackpot.


Kaylee McKeown of Australia celebrates after winning the women's 200m backstroke final at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Saturday, July 29, 2023. Image AAP

Kaylee McKeown has completed an extraordinary weekend in Budapest with a third race win and the title of overall women's World Cup champion bringing her unprecedented riches.


The 22-year-old Australian swim star was again untouchable in her third backstroke triumph of the weekend on Sunday, adding the 200 metres crown to the 100m and 50m titles that she had annexed with world records over the previous two days.


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.


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."


The Michael Bohl-coached swimmer showed no signs of fatigue as she reached the first turn 0.01sec ahead of world record schedule in the 200.


But though she couldn't keep up the assault on her Sydney mark, she still destroyed all her opposition, with 200m runner-up Anastasiya Shkurdai, of Belarus, finishing almost five seconds behind her.


The bad news for her opposition is that McKeown has no intention of easing up with the Olympics in sight.


"My confidence level is probably where it was after this summer's world championships. 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. 


Another stellar Australian performance came from Sydneysider Lani Pallister, who took the women's 800m freestyle by more than seven seconds, and broke her own World Cup record in the process, clocking 8:15.11 while improving on the 8:16.82 she had recorded in Berlin.


Australian sisters Bronte Campbell (4th in 53.42sec) and Cate Campbell (5th in 53.43) couldn't get into the frame of the 100m freestyle, with Hong Kong's Siobhan Haughey (52.24) outpacing Swedish great Sarah Sjoestroem (53.25) for the title by more than a second.


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