Olympic gold medalist Ariarne Titmus hasn’t swum a lap since returning home from the Olympic Games, she told the Gold Coast Bulletin this week.
“I haven’t done any laps, and I’ve got another two weeks before I head into training,” Titmus said.
The 21-year old Titmus validated her remarkable rise to the top of women’s middle-distance swimming in Tokyo by winning gold in both the 200 and 400 meter freestyles. In both cases, she knocked off the last decade’s best female distance freestyler, Katie Ledecky.
Titmus also picked up a silver medal in the 800 free and a bronze medal in the 800 free relay.
“This is the first time in my life I’ve focused on things other than swimming and I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed having that extra glass of wine and not worrying what time I’m going to bed because I have to get up early to train.”
Besides a whirlwind tour of endorsements and media appearances, Titmus, who rode horses when she was younger, has used the time to reconnect with them for the first time since she was 12. As a spokesperson for the Victoria Racing Club and the Lexus Melbourne Cup Carnival, she recently participated in a photo shoot with horses, where she said “they were like me: athletes taking a break from their sport, fattening up, relaxing…so they can come back stronger.”
Rest, and the amount of it that swimmers get at the end of a season, has become an overarching topic in the sport over the last 18 months.
Many athletes who were locked out of pool time in the pandemic came back faster than they ever were in spite of the loss of training, which has led some coaches to the conclusion that we aren’t giving our swimmers enough of a break between huge training cycles.
At the same time, the upstart International Swimming League, now in its third season, has pushed many athletes to jump right back into full training and racing a month after the conclusion of the Olympic Games and a long five year training cycle.
Titmus, who competed with the Cali Condors in previous seasons of the ISL, isn’t participating in this year’s events.
We’ve heard from other swimmers who are taking it easy on their return to the pool. Titmus’ countrymate and fellow Olympic hero Emma McKeon was a late arrival to the ISL, and said that she was, essentially, just swimming when she felt like it during the interim.
There now will suddenly be a quick turnaround, a brief, three-year cycle, before the Paris 2024 Olympics come around. With a short course World Championship meet later this year, both long course and short course editions next year, a Commonwealth Games next year as well, and then another round of long course World Championships in 2023, the training and competitions will come fast.
For now, Titmus is enjoying her break and the fruits of her labor before its full steam ahead to France.