Australia’s most successful Olympian Emma McKeon is ready to reset for Paris 2024, declaring her record-breaking success in Tokyo will be motivation rather than millstone.
McKeon collected seven medals at the Tokyo Games, equalling the biggest haul for a female Olympian, while four gold medals and a career tally of 11 Olympic medals represented new Australian benchmarks.
The superstar swimmer is keen to switch off at the beach, relishing the prospect of relaxing with friends and family at summer holiday favourite Lake Conjola after competing in Europe to cap a busy year.
The Wollongong wizard, who launched a joint Surf Life Saving Australia and Nutri-Grain initiative designed to reduce drowning deaths on Australia’s beaches, says success has not made her feel any different.
“Which I like,” McKeon told AAP.
But already at the back of the humble 27-year-old’s mind is the prospect of a third Olympics, with an expected return to training in February set to double as the moment she marks out specific goals for 2024.
“I definitely want to go through to Paris,” McKeon said.
“When I get back in the pool, I will be just as motivated because I definitely still feel like I’m improving a lot and enjoying my swimming a lot.
“Now that I’ve won at the Olympics, I think that’s actually going to give me more motivation. Because I want to do the same thing.
“Three years doesn’t sound like long, especially when you compare it to the last (five-year) preparation, but it is still a long time.”
The softly spoken legend, who was the face of Australia’s triumphant Tokyo Games after swimming on every day of the meet, is yet to map out a path to Paris.
But next year will inevitably be “very busy”, with Japan to host for the world championships in May before focus shifts to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
“That’s why I just want to kind of zone out and enjoy myself now. Because I know it’s going to be intense again,” McKeon said.
McKeon’s victories in the 50m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay were the highlights of ‘Super Sunday’ in Tokyo, when four gold medals made it the nation’s most successful day in Olympic history.
Australia’s swimmers claimed nine gold medals at Tokyo, another record that McKeon helped break.
“As a team we’re very close,” McKeon said.
“When you’re around people that you feel comfortable with and they do feel like your family, then you’re going to perform well.”
McKeon, whose grandfather Rick was a founding member of South Maroubra Surf Life Saving club, is fronting a campaign designed to help Australians swim between the flags.
“Even though I’m a very good swimmer, the ocean is still dangerous and it’s important to know where patrolled beaches are,” she said.
“NutriGrain have got a QR code on the back of their boxes now, you can scan that and it’ll take you to beachsafe.org.au … and help find your nearest patrolled beach.”