Teen freestyle phenom Ariarne Titmus of Australia is currently ranked among the best in the world across the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m distances, but the aspiring Olympian may be opting out of one or more of those events at this year’s Pan Pacific Championships.
At Australia’s Pan Pacific Championship Trials, Titmus earned titles in all but the 1500m, an event in with the Tasmanian has only raced twice. Although she still captured a qualifying mark of 16:09.87 that is currently ranked 13th in the world this season, the 17-year-old will be dropping the event for Tokyo this summer.
Speaking to The Courier Mail this week, Titmus stated, “I think you’ll lose a bit of speed (if you do both the 200m and 1500m) and I really don’t want that to happen because I’m becoming quite competitive in the 200m.”
“With Katie [Ledecky] so dominant in the 1500m, I’m going to leave that one to her and try and target the 200m, 400m and 800m,” said Titmus.
“I really feel like I‘m more suited to the two, four and the eight and I feel like the 15 is going to be a bit too long for me. To train for the 200m, you just can’t do the 1500m as well.”
Speaking of that 200m, racing her way to Commonwealth Games silver earlier this year, Titmus fired off a monster time of 1:54.85, a time that fell just .04 off of Canadian Taylor Ruck’s gold medal winning mark. With her pefromance on the Gold Coast, Titmus ranks 3rd in the world and sits just .29 off of American Katie Ledecky‘s globe-leading time.
Given her phenomenal performances at just 17 years of age, down under, fans are pining for a battle between the teen and multiple world record holder Ledecky in the 200m freestyle sprint. However, Aussie Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren says they may need to wait until 2020.
“She’s focusing a little bit more on the longer distance at the moment,” Verhaeren told The Courier Mail this week.
“That’s long-term planning. It’s definitely her (long-term) aim (to take on Ledecky).
“With a younger athlete, it’s good coming from a little bit more volume coming down leading into an Olympics. And her coach understands that very well.”
Still, of her event line-up for Pan Pacs, Verhaeren said the teen is indeed still entered in the 200m at this point in time, but says, “We’re not sure (if she will swim it).”
From her own perspective, Titmus is focusing on the 800m freestyle, an event in which she ranks 3rd in the world with her gold medal worthy performance of 8:20.02 at the Commonwealth Games.
“My 800m I probably wasn’t as happy with at the Comm Games as other races, so I’ve really been trying to focus on training for that event,” said the teen. “Everything’s going really well, so that’s exciting for Pan Pacs.
“Dean (coach Dean Boxall) and I have a few long-term goals that are going to stay the same, but short-term there are a few things I need to change to fix up a few things in my races and hopefully I can improve on them over the next year which would set me up well for Tokyo (2020).”
Ledecky is a shoe-in to qualify at the U.S. Nationals in the 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m free, which means Titmus will still face her American foe in Tokyo in the longer events.