Emma McKeon takes a breath after benching best race at Pan Pacs

Emma McKeon will swim a pared-back program at this week's Pan Pacs meet in Tokyo but that doesn't mean the iron-woman of the Australian pool has farewelled her most-successful international event.

McKeon has an Olympic bronze and world championship silver to her name in the 200m freestyle, yet that's the race that will be missing from her list against the Canadians, Brazilians, Japanese and Americans from August 9.

Something had to give: Emma McKeon won't race in the 200m freestyle at the Pan Pacs, but it will be back on her program for 2020.

Photo: AAP

The combination of an ongoing shoulder injury and a desire to freshen up her training before the second main meet of the year is behind the call, although McKeon will still swim the 200m as part of the relay squad.

It's not a permanent move; McKeon has no intention of dropping the race for good as she prepares for next year's FINA World Championships in Korea and the Olympics in 2020.

Yet it's given her a degree of freshness ahead of Pan Pacs as she focuses on the 100m freestyle and butterfly sprints over the short but testing four-day scramble.


"I was aiming to have a smaller program at this meet, especially since its only over four days. With four relays its still going to be pretty busy. Ill have the 200m free in the relay. It was just a way to minimise my events and to have a different preparation, which kept it interesting for me," McKeon said.

"It wasnt a hard decision. This is the second main meet of the year and its another one on the way to the Olympics. Its mostly about just keeping it all interesting. Im not getting rid of it though."

Overloaded: Emma McKeon was troubled by a shoulder injury before the Commonwealth Games.

Photo: AAP

McKeon thrives on hard training and even more intense racing. She swam a massive 14 races at last year's World Championships in Hungary and could do the same at the Tokyo Olympics.

That will be contingent on her fitness, with a shoulder injury meaning she wasn't at peak fitness for the Commonwealth Games. Even though it is now healed, there were times when she was unsure whether she would be able to compete against the Americans next week.

She sat down with her decorated coach Michael Bohl to plot their path before the Pan Pacs trials in Adelaide, but as her shoulder improved McKeon was given the green light.

"We both decided. When I got back from the pool after Comm Games I had a different focus," McKeon said. "I wasnt sure if I was going to do Pan Pacs because I wanted to focus on other things, like getting my shoulder right again and getting my strength back in the gym.

"Seeing how I was when I got closer to trials, that would decide it. And I did pretty well at trials. I wanted to come over here and give the 100s a go and try to drop those times some more.

"If Im just doing the sprints and not have such a massive program, I can really pour everything into it. I feel like its good to have a meet like that and not try to balance everything. Im used to having to back up for at least 12 races."

The 24-year-old is now a senior member of the Dolphins' squad and one of Australia's best-performed swimmers over recent years. She's a fierce competitor and has high personal expectations, which was why the Commonwealth Games proved to be such a tricky proposition.

McKeon will do anything to avoid excuses, but her shoulder caused significant disruptions before the meet. It was the most-challenging injury of her career.

"I raced to my full potential but it was mainly a strength thing. I couldnt do everything I needed to do in the pool and the gym," she said.

"Mentally, I need the hard work behind me. Thats what gives me confidence. I did the best with what I could. It was hard to race like that but I just tried to focus on enjoying a home Games.

"It was hard. Im a racer and Im competitive. But I did the best I could. I would never use my shoulder as an excuse. Bronte Campbell did a PB with her injuries."

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