Swimming-Titmus wants to end Ledecky’s reign in Tokyo pool
MELBOURNE, July 17 (Reuters) – The spotlight will be on Katie Ledecky as she tries to become the most successful Olympian in the Tokyo pool, but Ariarne Titmus, an aquatic predator ready to strike the Queen of America the swimming.
Australian Titmus caused a stir when she upset a sick Ledecky for the 400-meter freestyle title at the 2019 world championships and now stands as the biggest threat to the five-time Olympic champion’s hopes from another booty Golden.
Entered in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle, Titmus, 20, will try to deprive Ledecky of back-to-back titles in three of her five events in Tokyo after igniting the Australian Olympic trials in June.
Tasmania, nicknamed “The Terminator,” swam the second-fastest 200 and 400m all-time in Adelaide to allay concerns about a shoulder issue that forced her out of the pool for some time.
His 200 (1: 53.09) was barely a tenth of a second off Federica Pellegrini’s long-standing world record (1: 52.98), while the 400 (3: 56.90) was less than half a second off. Ledecky’s global mark of 3: 56.46.
Dazzling times gave Titmus confidence ahead of his first Olympics, and his showdown with Ledecky could be the highlight of the Tokyo pool, if not the Games themselves.
Some pundits have declared Titmus the favorite for the 200 and 400, but the Australian still sees herself as the underdog.
“I’m his number one competitor right now,” Titmus said of Ledecky, who won four gold medals at the age of 19 in Rio.
“I always say I’m the hunter.
“This is her third Olympics and she’s been under pressure before and I’m sort of entering uncharted territory.”
The COVID-19 pandemic means their rivalry has been played out at a long distance since the 2019 world championships.
Titmus, who has developed close relationships with swimmers from other countries, described his interactions with Ledecky as civil rather than warm.
“I mean, I’m not as close to her as other people overseas,” she told reporters at a training camp in Australia.
“When I see her abroad, it’s all very civil, very normal. She’s just a person… It’s not like this massive rivalry that everyone thinks.”
Despite being only 20 years old, Titmus was raised to be one of the leaders of the Australian Olympic swimming team, which hopes to challenge the traditional United States dominance in the pool.
Trained by “super coach” Dean Boxall, Titmus exudes confidence, but there is no hint of bravado when she says even faster times are within her grasp.
Ledecky’s presence in Tokyo could prove to be the ultimate accelerator.
“Running will help me swim faster,” she said.
“It’s very difficult to be alone and you kind of have to run instinctively and figure out where you are feeling.
“Having someone next to me will hopefully push me even more.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford
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