The explosive fall-out to one of the wildest swimming world championships in recent memory continues with Aussie star Kaylee McKeown scolding Aussie legend Cate Campbell.
Australia’s rivalry with the United States reached boiling point during the Fukuoka meet where the Dolphins knocked the superpower Americans off their perch as the best swimming nation on the planet, returning home to Australia with a record-equalling 13 gold medals to America’s seven.
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The bad blood started when the USA were awarded team of the meet at last week’s World Swimming Championships, having accrued more total medals with a haul of haul of 38 to Australia’s 25.
It was just the second time since the 1956 Melbourne Olympics Australia has beaten the United States in the medal tally of a major international meet, and the first since 2001.
Campbell this week caused a stir in America after an appearance on the Today Show where she called the Americans “sore losers”.
Campbell, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, hit a sore spot in the United States with American swimming great Lily King and others calling Australia “uptight”.
The situation has now taken a dramatic turn with McKeown, who achieved an extraordinary backstroke triple sweep across the 50m, 100m and 200m events in Japan, distancing herself from Campbell’s inflammatory comments.
McKeown, who was named female swimmer of the meet, has told News Corp: “The rivalry between Swimming Australia and the American team has been like that for decades, it is not anything new.
“In saying that though, I think there is a right and wrong way to say things and Cate is entitled to her opinion but I just want the US to know that she is not speaking on behalf of the whole Australian team.”
McKeown said she was not the only one that was not impressed with Campbell’s TV appearance.
“She (Campbell) wasn’t in Japan and so for her to make those comments, it kind of makes us athletes, not look bad, but we don’t think what she said,” she said.
“We weren’t too impressed that she had her two cents to put in.”
The incredible drama has set the stage for a blockbuster Paris Olympics where the USA and Australia will duel in the pool again in less than 12 months.
It is Australia that has the upper hand.
American TV network NBC decided to wave the white flag and change their graphics to use the total medal count, instead of the usual tally of the number of gold medals — which put the USA ahead of Australia.
Campbell, meanwhile, also called out the USA team’s use of a cowbell when team members walk out onto the pool deck pre-race.
“I mean Australia coming out on top of the world is one thing, but it is just so much sweeter beating America,” she said.
“The first night of competition, we did not have to hear ‘Star Spangled Banner’ ring out through the stadium. I cannot tell you how happy that made me.
“If I hear that song again it will be too soon.
“Bring on Paris. That’s all I have to say to the US. Stop being sore losers.”
And it’s safe to say Campbell’s comments didn’t go down too well in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Star American breaststroker Lilly King tweeted: “Sorry we aren’t so uptight we can’t cheer for our teammates as they walkout for events. See you in Paris.”
King is one of team USA’s most outspoken swimmers and famously predicted the American women would win every single individual swimming event at the Tokyo Olympics. Spoiler alert, they did not.
US commentators said Campbell’s comments will only serve as motivation for the Americans to beat the Aussies in the pool at next year’s Paris Olympics.
Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde tweeted the clip of Campbell teeing off, adding: “Eighty seconds of training fuel for USA Swimming heading toward Paris in ‘24.”
Olympic gold medallist turned NBC swimming pundit Rowdy Gaines tweeted: “360 days. I can’t wait. The rivalry continues.”
Bring on Paris.