It is fair to say nerves are no longer a problem for Queensland swimmer Taylor McKeown.
But her Glasgow Commonwealth Games rivals have every reason to be anxious.
At last year’s national titles in Adelaide, a 17-year-old McKeown was the fastest qualifier for the 200m breaststroke final but was so intimidated by veteran Sally Hunter (nee Foster) that she “gave up” in the final 50 metres.
She clung on for bronze but her snail-like pace ensured she missed a golden chance to make the 2013 world titles squad.
Fast forward 12 months and a relaxed McKeown left Hunter in her wake to claim 200m gold in a stunning 2:22.10 – a time that would have claimed 2013 world titles bronze.
And the only Australian to have swum faster in the event is her idol, the great Leisel Jones (2:20.54).
McKeown’s new-found poise eroded when told the extraordinary stats.
“Wow. I did not know that,” she said of the comparison with the 2013 world titles podium times.
“It scares me a little bit. But that is really exciting for me and my coach and something that we will use to drive us in the future.”
Still, she warmed to being mentioned in the same sentence as Jones.
“To be matched up with someone like Leisel Jones who is one of Australia’s biggest icons in sporting history is just such a good feeling,” she said.
“She is someone I’ve always looked up to so hopefully one day I can be as good as what she is – that is my goal.”
McKeown said she had dropped 6kg and added visits to a sports psychologist since her 2013 meltdown.
“I try not to think about last year too much,” she said.
“I was really overwhelmed. I came out really nervous, focused on what others were doing and forgot about myself.
“Then I saw Sally at the 100m (mark) and gave up a bit. I thought ‘Sally is so fast, she is so much older than me’.
“Mentally it just crushed me. I just wanted to get out at the 150m mark. I had had enough.
“But this year I did not let nerves overcome me. I just went out and had fun.
“Bring on Com Games!”