Australia’s most decorated Olympian; Birmingham Commonwealth Games

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Australia’s most successful Olympian Emma McKeon at North Wollongong Beach. Photo: Jonathan Ng

Olympic swimming legend Emma McKeon’s insatiable appetite for medals will see her repeat her Tokyo schedule at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year.

Even the great Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer of all time, did not repeat the program that earned him a record eight gold in Beijing.

However, McKeon – who will be 28 next year – said she enjoys “hard work” and refuses to compromise her workload.

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Simply the best: Emma McKeon (right) wins gold in the women's 100m freestyle final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Photo: Adam Head
Simply the best: Emma McKeon (right) wins gold in the women’s 100m freestyle final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Photo: Adam Head

It was a workload that saw her compete in every session in Tokyo, but also swim with seven medals – four gold, three bronze and the title of Australia’s most decorated Olympian.

Speaking from the family vacation home on Lake Conjola in New South Wales, McKeon said she was taking the next two months off before kicking off her world championships and campaign in Birmingham.

“Looking back … it was a lot … it was crazy … 90 races cross the Olympics, the ISL (International Swimming League) and the World Cups,” she said.

“I won’t be back in the water until next year, but I know I don’t want to give up any of my events.

Australia's most successful Olympian takes a break at North Wollongong Beach.  Photo: Jonathan Ng
Australia’s most successful Olympian takes a break at North Wollongong Beach. Photo: Jonathan Ng

“I like having a big program so I’m going to keep doing it. I ran everyday in Tokyo – it was 13 races altogether… but I also work with a sports psychologist and it helped me a lot – she prepared me for what was to come at the Games and to my workload.

“We worked on a lot of scenarios and ‘what ifs’ and I was prepared… and I had a strong feeling that nothing was going to stand in my way.

“And I know I can redo the work and repeat the program.

“There isn’t one event I want to stop and I love training for everyone… and it seems to work for me, good. “

McKeon will return to serious training for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games next year.  Photo: Jonathan Ng
McKeon will return to serious training for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games next year. Photo: Jonathan Ng

In favor of the no-frills superstar, there will be no semi-finals in Birmingham, just playoff heats and then back-to-back finals.

And while many Australian swimmers have returned to the pool, McKeon is happy to escape the chlorine routine and schedules.

“The last time I had a real break was after the 2016 Olympics, I took three months off and went on a trip.

“Swimming is a tough sport anyway with the volume of training we do… I really like working hard so I don’t mind coming back from a long break.”

The ironwoman of the pool also has strong ties to the surf community and is an ambassador for Surf Lifesaving Australia’s new beach safety campaign which will see a QR code on every Nutri-Grain pack.

Her father was a founding member of the South Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club and McKeon explained that the QR code will be linked through the BeachSafe.org.au website which alerts people to their nearest lifeguarded beach.

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