FASTEST QUALIFIER: Taylor McKeown will be favoured to win the women's 200m breaststroke final at Rio.
FASTEST QUALIFIER: Taylor McKeown will be favoured to win the women's 200m breaststroke final at Rio. PAUL MILLER

Coast's Taylor McKeown in prime position for gold at Rio

SWIMMING: Sunshine Coast's Taylor McKeown is in prime position to claim an Olympic gold medal, qualifying fastest for the women's 200m breaststroke final.

The 21-year-old, who swims out of the University of Sunshine Coast club under Chris Mooney, was ultra impressive in the semi-finals on Thursday.

She touched the wall in 2min21.69sec, ahead of Great Britain's Molly Renshaw (2:22.37).

Japan's Rie Kaneto, who won the other semi-final, was second fastest qualifier in 2:22.11.

"I was really relaxed and I had fun,” McKeown told the 7 Network.

" I stuck to my race plan. I backed off a little bit in the last 30m so fingers crossed can have the exact same race (in the final) and bring it home stronger.”

In an ominous sign for her rivals she said she could "definitely” improve in the decider.

"I was 0.2sec outside my PB and if I'd stuck to coming home in that last 50m that could have been a PB swim but I don't want to come to an Olympics and spend all my chips in the semi-final,” she said.

"I know I've done the work to be here and this season I've been doing PB sessions in training so I feel like this is my time to really enjoy this race and let all that hard work pay off.”

McKeown burst on to the swimming scene two years ago when she won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The final will be contested from 11am on Friday.