The Olympic Games is known to produce a number of memorable moments, from feats of athletic prowess to displays of sportsmanship and camaraderie. But if ever there was a defining moment from Tokyo 2020, it would be that of Aussie golden girl Ariarne Titmus sealing her legendary status in the pool with victories in the 200m and 400m freestyle events. Making her Olympic debut at 20-years-old, Australians were united in our support for Titmus, and when she hit the wall first, we erupted much the same as her coach, Dean Boxall.
Proving that she’s now one to watch when it comes to the sport of swimming, Titmus has once again dominated the 400m freestyle with a recent record at the Australian championships. Clocking a time of three minutes 56.40 seconds in Sunday night’s final in Adelaide, the young star smashed the previous record of 3:56.46 set by American rival, Katie Ledecky, at the 2016 Olympics.
Speaking about the significance of her achievement, Titmus told reporters, “It’s kind of nice now that I am not going to be asked when I am going to break the world record.”
She added, “I am the happiest I have ever been outside of swimming, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life in swimming. It’s definitely showing in the pool.”
The rival between Titmus and Ledecky is one that holds the same kind of tension as the likes of Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe. Ledecky is widely considered the greatest individual female swimmer in Olympic history, winning the 800m freestyle Olympic gold at the age of just 15-years-old in London. She then added another three individual titles to her name at Rio 2016 in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle. At Tokyo 2020, Ledecky boasted an ambitious swim schedule for her third Olympic Games, with a never-before-attempted distance of 6,200 metres total of swimming – nearly twice the distance that Michael Phelps took on for his record-breaking 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Titmus beat Ledecky to secure Olympic gold in the 400m and 200m freestyle and finished behind the American in the 800m freestyle final. “I am definitely not putting the pressure on myself that I used to, but it’s still a healthy amount,” said Titmus, regarding her swimming schedule.
“That has been the trick to me swimming well. Just going out there completely fearless, swimming what I used to feel like when I was 16 and first cracked on to the national team and just going there and surprising myself.”
Titmus may have beaten her rival, but it’s clear Ledecky has been a great source of inspiration for the swimmer who credits Ledecky as being the greatest female swimmer of all time. “I can’t put myself up next to her. What she has done for female swimming has been insane: she’s been at this level for 10 years,” said Titmus.
“To be in the conversation with her, I feel completely honoured. I hope now this is going to keep the battle going – give her some drive, hopefully, we can see how much faster we can keep going.”
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