McKeon powers up as Tokyo comes into view
A RENEWED focus on technique and strength heading into this week's Pan Pacific championships is set to give Emma McKeon a perfect gauge of her standing two years out from the Tokyo Olympics.
McKeon emerged from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with four gold medals earlier this year despite a shoulder injury which hampered her performance.
The 24-year-old won 10 medals at the Olympic Games and world championships in 2016-17 to claim a place as one of the best in the world.
But she has dropped her pet 200m from the four-day Pan Pac meet in Tokyo from Thursday in a bid to concentrate on the freestyle and butterfly sprints with her revamped technique.
"I've been doing a lot of work on my freestyle technique, just changing that up because I think that's changing my technique is how I'm going to change from where I'm at," McKeon said.
"It's a slow process because you can't just change overnight, especially when you get to the pace of doing it.
"But I feel like it's already improved a lot because my gym stuff's improved and I've gotten a lot stronger - back close to the strength I was leading into worlds.
"So that helps getting the technique down."
McKeon had a cortisone injection in her troubled shoulder before swimming at the Commonwealth Games but a break after the April event and a determination to rebuild strength in the joint has her back at her best heading into the Pan Pacs.
"I've kind of built into my gym a bit and worked on a few of those things, so I've got a lot stronger," McKeon said.
"I think maybe the reason I got injured were because the bits around it were weak, so now I'm just strengthening those up.
"I just didn't feel strong or powerful (at the Commonwealth Games).
"I need that. I'm the kind of swimmer who feels the water a lot, I think maybe because I focus on my technique."
Revamping her technique has been no picnic though.
McKeon and coach Michael Bohl have worked with sports scientists, videoing McKeon's stroke and making adjustments to get the best outcome.
"It's hard because you've got to be patient," McKeon said.
"But both my 100m (freestyle and butterfly) were good (at Pan Pac trials) and that shows where I'm at."
McKeon dropped the 100m freestyle from her heavy Commonwealth Games program but with each country able to nominate as many swimmers as they want in the Pan Pacs heat program, McKeon will tackle the event again this week in Tokyo.
To reach the final though, she will have to not only qualify among the fastest in the field but as one of the two best Australians.
And that means overcoming at least three of Cate Campbell, Shayna Jack, Brianna Throssell and Madeline Groves.