Olympic Games | Emma McKeon not cutting back schedule as Paris 2024 looms

Olympics

Australian Olympic hero Emma McKeon says she has no intention of cutting back her enormous workload in the pool, as she turns her attention to the 2024 Games.

McKeon claimed seven medals in Tokyo, four of them gold, taking her career tally to 11 medals. That makes her Australia’s most successful Olympian, a description that she admits is still “a bit weird”.

Where her tally ends up is anybody’s guess, with the 27-year-old telling Wide World of Sports that she’s intent on swimming at least until Paris in two-and-a-half years’ time.

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“I definitely want to go to another Olympics, that’s what will have me motivated in a couple of months’ time to go again,” she said, noting that the three years between Tokyo and Paris made the decision easier.

“That’s not as overwhelming, but I guess anything is better than the five-year wait we had this time around from Rio (to Tokyo).”

“That took a lot of adjusting, and it was so overwhelming, because I’d been so focused, and for it to be suddenly cancelled was hard to take.

“But my team was really good, they knew I’d have ups and downs with my motivation through that extra 12-month wait. But everyone was in the same boat, we didn’t have any control over it, it was just about how each individual handled it.”

McKeon is currently enjoying her first decent break since 2016, when she took three months off after Rio. This time around, it’s a couple of months to kick back and enjoy the Australian summer, and reflect on all she’s achieved.

“I definitely will look back, but not forward just yet,” she said.

“I won’t use the time to reset my goals, I know I’ve still got a lot of improving to do, and that’s where my motivation comes from, it’s why I want to keep going.

“But holidays aren’t the time to reset your goals, I feel like that’s just a fast-track to disaster, after you’ve just reached your goal and worked so hard to reach it, you need a break before you focus on something else, it’s so important for your mental health.

“So much of swimming is focusing on what’s next. I really want to enjoy this part of my life, and be proud of what I’ve done and spend the time with the people who helped me get there.”

McKeon hasn’t stopped swimming since Tokyo, apart from a couple of weeks in quarantine in Howard Springs immediately after the Olympics. It’s why this period is so important to her, given the crowded calendar that beckons once again in 2022.

Fukuoka in Japan will host the world championships in May, and that’s followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, starting in late-July.

McKeon’s packed schedule had her in the pool every day at the Olympics, and slowing down is not something she’s considering any time soon.

Pressed on whether she might scale back her workload in future, McKeon saw no reason to do so.

“I’m used to it and I feel like I’m well prepared for such a heavy workload,” she explained.

“All the events I do are also relay events, and I love those so much I wouldn’t want to drop any of them.”

In the meantime she’ll enjoy her break, teaming up with Surf Life Saving Australia and Nutri-Grain to encourage Australians to swim between the flags this summer.

“The goal is to ensure people are aware of how to locate their nearest patrolled beach,” she said.

“You can scan the QR code which takes you to beachsafe.org.au and you can’t enter the postcode of wherever you are, and you’ll be directed to the patrolled beaches.

“It’s trying to make sure people know how to stay safe this summer.”

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