Emma McKeon's sad call on swimming career as Ariarne Titmus makes big Olympics statement

The most decorated Australian athlete in Olympics history is calling it quits.

Aussie swimming golden girl Emma McKeon has revealed the upcoming Paris Games will be her last Olympics. The 29-year-old, who is Australia's most decorated Olympic athlete, will compete at a third Games in Paris in July.

But McKeon revealed this week that the Paris Olympics will be the last of her career, and she was no plans to keep swimming until the 2028 Games in Los Angeles when she will be 33. “I think swimming will always be a part of my life and has been for my whole life so far,” she said in an interview with the official Olympic Games website.

Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus in the swimming pool.
Emma McKeon has revealed the Paris Olympics will be her last, while Ariarne Titmus made a big statement at the Australian swimming championships. Image: Getty

“But this will definitely be my last Olympics, so I’m excited for that. Success for me in Paris would be to swim faster than I ever have before.”

McKeon has five gold, two silver and four bronze medals in her Olympic career - the most total medals by an Aussie athlete ever. Her five gold medals are tied with Ian Thorpe for the most among Aussie athletes in Olympic Games history.


Emma McKeon eyeing Olympic Games history in Paris

Whether or not she can go past Thorpe by claiming a sixth gold in Paris remains to be seen, but it would be the perfect way for McKeon to cap her stellar career. “My motivation definitely goes up and down,” she said about her desire to keep competing. “But I’ve learnt over the years you can’t really rely on motivation to get you up every morning.

“It’s more about discipline and that’s something I’ve grown more and more over the years in swimming. It’s just having my goals in mind and just being disciplined in knowing what I have to do to achieve those goals.

“But I think post-Tokyo (in 2021), the thing that kept me going was that I felt like I had more to give and I felt like I could go faster and do better. So that’s kind of what brought me back to the pool.”

Emma McKeon.
Emma McKeon at the swimming world championships in 2023.

McKeon is still building up to top form ahead of the Paris Games, finishing third in the 100m freestyle (her pet event) behind Mollie O'Callaghan and Meg Harris at the Australian championships this week. She also finished third in the 50m freestyle behind Shayna Jack and Harris, sparking some questions about whether she is still the dominant force she once was.

But McKeon hasn't had the same preparation as some of her top rivals after suffering a torn muscle under her armpit in December. The Australian Olympic trials will be a fairer illustration of what we can expect from McKeon in Paris when they take place in June.

Emma McKeon's romance with Cody Simpson has changed her

Speaking earlier this week, McKeon's coach Michael Bohl revealed how her relationship with Cody Simpson has changed her as a person and swimming is no longer the be-all and end-all. "She was at a stage in her life where she was single (in Tokyo) ... and swimming was certainly her No.1 focus," Bohl told Wide World of Sports.

"Swimming still is her No.1 focus , but she's got a relationship now. Her and Cody are going out. They're very serious about their relationship. So there's that level of contentment, but I don't see it drifting across to her attitude to training. She's very focused on trying to position herself the best she can to try and secure places on that Olympic team. I think you're happier when you're in a relationship, and you're a little bit more at peace as you're getting older."

Ariarne Titmus and Cameron McEvoy make Olympic statements

Meanwhile, fellow golden girl Ariarne Titmus showed her preparations for Paris are well-and-truly on track after winning the 400m freestyle with the fastest time of the year (three minutes 59.13) at the Australian championships on Friday night.

It marked the seventh national title for Titmus and the first time she's gone under four minutes in the event outside of a major meet. "That is my first time sub four (minutes) in work which is really good ... it's a good sign," she said. "I know a lot of people are willing me on and I am just trying to use it the best way possible."

Ariarne Titmus and Lani Pallister at the Australian swimming championships.
Ariarne Titmus and Lani Pallister after the 400m freestyle final at the Australian swimming championships.

And Cameron McEvoy also made a huge statement after shading Kyle Chalmers in the men's 50m freestyle. Veteran stalwart McEvoy pipped Chalmers in their highly-anticipated showdown, with the 29-year-old touching in 21.93 seconds ahead of Chalmers (21.98) and Tom Nowakowski (22.08).

"It's good, 22.1 last year and it's always good to go 21, it's nice to have that under my belt," McEvoy said afterwards. "Eight weeks left, it's looking good."

Cameron McEvoy at the Australian swimming championships.
Cameron McEvoy looks on after the 50m freestyle final at the Australian swimming championships.

with AAP