McKeon flops in 400m free at world titles

Rising Australian swimmer David McKeon was shattered after becoming a surprise casualty in the 400m freestyle heats on day one of the world championships.

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The national champion, who was ranked second in the world coming into the event in Barcelona, was 12th fastest in Sunday’s heats to miss out on a spot in the eight-man final.

Compatriot Jordan Harrison, just 17, had no such problems as he impressed to qualify third fastest for Sunday night’s final behind Chinese superstar Sun Yang.

NSW swimmer McKeon appeared to tire badly late in his heat as he clocked three minutes and 49.51 seconds, almost six seconds slower than his winning time at selection trials in April.

The 20-year-old was so disappointed he had only a few words to offer reporters after the race.

“Pretty s***. I just don’t know what happened,” said McKeon, the son of former Olympian Ron McKeon.

Harrison said he tried not to watch McKeon’s race before contesting the final heat.

The teenager, who is also competing in the 800m and 1500m events in Spain, was delighted to progress into his first major international final.

He clocked 3:46.85 to go through behind Sun 3:44.67 and Canadian Ryan Cochrane (3:45.74).

“It was pretty overwhelming,” said Harrison.

“I didn’t really think much during the race. I was just trying to stick with Sun Yang and Ryan next to me. I was kind of just going for it.

“To come out third fastest, that’s really good. It’s been a really great experience so far.”

Australian star Alicia Coutts said McKeon’s exit showed paper rankings meant nothing when it came to big meets.

“I don’t really pay too much attention to paper rankings, you never know what’s going to happen,” Coutts said after progressing to the 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley semis.

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