SWIMMING: An earlier than expected return to form has Olympic silver medallist Taylor McKeown primed to tackle next week's Australian Swimming Championships in Brisbane.
A nine-week break in which she travelled, completed charity work and did everything possible to "stay away from the pool and have fun” has re-invigorated her training, following a disappointing result in the 100m breaststroke final at Rio.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist qualified fastest for the final and was the hot favourite to take gold from lane four. She would finish fifth but still brought home silver for her role in the 4x100m medley relay.
She said had been in regular contact with her sports psychologist and planned to use the mistakes as motivation moving forward.
"I definitely wasn't ready for the expectation around the final,” McKeown said.
"I put so much expectation on myself. In my mind (I was thinking) gold medal. Gold medal. Gold medal.
"I knew the times I'd done were good to that point and knew it was possible. I was so focussed on the gold medal that I neglected everything I was supposed to do in the race.”
McKeown said she missed the training atmosphere during her break.
"I did want to get back in the pool and try again,” she said.
"I'll use the mistakes I made in the final at Rio last year to resurrect this year and go even better.”
She eased back into training in November, and by Christmas, felt she was swimming times comparable with her lead-up to Rio.
"I said to myself I didn't mind if I was ready to make the (World Titles) team this year,” McKeown said.
"To be back at that stage so soon was really unexpected, but I'll take it. I'm so happy where I'm at now and can't wait to race next week.”
McKeown's campaign begins on Monday (Day 2), when she dives in for heats of the 100m breaststroke, before competing in the 200m (Day 4) and the 200m individual medley (Day 5).
Her younger sister, Kaylee McKeown, will also start her campaign on Day 2 with the 100m backstroke, followed by the 50m and 200m versions. The sisters could potentially square-off in the 200m IM on Day 5.
The championships get under way on Sunday.