No sporting fairytale as new mum Emily Seebohm fails to qualify for her fifth Olympics – but a star is born in teenage sensation Jaclyn Barclay

  • Swimming star returned to pool eight months after having her son 
  • Wants to motivate her son and other mothers with her efforts 
  • While she did not make the Olympics, a rising star has earned their shot 

Australian swimming champion Emily Seebohm’s quest to become a five-time Olympian in Paris is over. However, a new star is set to make her Olympic debut.

Seebohm, 32 and a first-time mum, fell short in the women’s 200m backstroke final at Australia’s Paris 2024 trials on Thursday night. 

In the same race, 17-year-old Jaclyn Barclay secured her spot for an Olympic debut.

Kaylee McKeown, the reigning Olympic gold medallist in the 200m backstroke, won the race with a time of 2:03.30. She missed her own world record by just 0.16 seconds.

Barclay finished second with a time of 2:07.88, surpassing Swimming Australia’s Olympic qualification time by almost two seconds. 

Emily Seebohm set herself an incredible challenge to reach her fifth Olympic Games just months after giving birth 

A new star was born at the Olympic trials in 17-year-old Jaclyn Barclay who has qualified for the Paris Olympics

A new star was born at the Olympic trials in 17-year-old Jaclyn Barclay who has qualified for the Paris Olympics

Barclay finished second to reigning Olympic gold medalist Kaylee McKeown at the trials

Barclay finished second to reigning Olympic gold medalist Kaylee McKeown at the trials

Seebohm, who made her Olympic debut at 16 at the Beijing 2008 Games, finished fifth.

Having failed to qualify in the 100m backstroke on Tuesday, Seebohm’s last chance was the 200m backstroke. 

‘To race these girls is incredible and to make the Olympics, I’m still in shock,’ Barclay said after the swim.

‘It was incredible to touch the wall and see I was second. I couldn’t believe it.’

Seebohm hopes her journey inspires her baby boy and other mothers. 

Eight months after giving birth, she fell short of becoming the first Australian swimmer picked for five Olympic Games.

‘Mums from my group came out and watched with their bubs,’ the four-time Olympian said before the race.

‘Mums have reached out to me saying how inspiring this is.’

‘When I was pregnant, I felt like I lost the athlete I was. 

‘This is me trying to regain that and prove to other women that it’s possible to have kids and achieve your dreams too.’

While Seebohm's time in the spotlight is over, she is still hoping to inspire the next wave of swimmers and her son

While Seebohm’s time in the spotlight is over, she is still hoping to inspire the next wave of swimmers and her son

Barclay has a chance to try and emulate Seebohm's feats in the pool, with the Aussie star also bursting onto the scene as a teenager

Barclay has a chance to try and emulate Seebohm’s feats in the pool, with the Aussie star also bursting onto the scene as a teenager

Seebohm also wanted to inspire her son Sampson. 

‘I’m doing this for myself and to prove to Sampson that if you have a dream, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,’ she said.

‘A lot of people doubted my comeback. I breastfed for eight months, went to training, pumped, went to the gym, and made it to Sampson’s lessons. It was hard, but doable.’

Seebohm has won three gold, three silver, and one bronze medal in her four Olympics. 

She believes motherhood made her a wiser athlete. 

‘We think 30 is the prime of your athletic career,’ she said. 

‘There’s still more to give, just a different way to do it. It’s about being smarter, but there’s room for movement.’

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