Ariarne Titmus Clips Katie Ledecky For World Female Swimmer Of the Year (See Full Voting)

Ariarne Titmus

Ariarne Titmus Clips Katie Ledecky For World Female Swimmer Of the Year; Adds Pacific Rim Title

A combination of scheduling backlogs and an untimely bout of COVID-19 meant the world was denied a battle between Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky during the long course season last summer.

The Commonwealth Games emerged early as a priority on Titmus’ racing slate. Contracting the disease in late May ruled out a summer double dip for her, depriving fans a chance to see the two presiding stars in women’s distance freestyle—and perhaps the two most illustrious stars in all of swimming—tangle head-to-head. Both then passed on what had been an anticipated reboot of the Duel in the Pool series in August.

Or, put another way, the summer’s near-miss only ratchets up the anticipation for 2024, when the two titans of women’s swimming—and clearly, the leading perennial candidates for World Swimmer of the Year—will certainly collide at the Paris Olympics.

Instead, a competition in absentia had to suffice for 2022, Ledecky and Titmus dominating their respective realms. Ledecky won three individual gold medals in Budapest at Worlds, a sweep of the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle. Titmus, cleared to focus on the Commonwealth Games, assembled a historic performance in her own right in Birmingham, England.

Titmus broke the world record in the 400 freestyle at the Australian Championships in May, going 3:56.40. At the Commonwealth Games, she won the 200, 400 and 800 free. All were achieved in Games records for an illustrious Australian team that claimed 14 of 15 possible women’s freestyle medals. She added gold in the 800 free relay, anchoring the squad in 1:52.82. The Aussies set a world record of 7:39.29, winning by a comical margin of 12 seconds.

On the head-to-head score on the clock against Ledecky, Titmus came out on top in the 200 and 400 for 2022, with Ledecky holding the edge in the 800.

But it’s the wresting of the world record away from Ledecky in the 400 that is most consequential in the reckoning between the two generational distance stars. She trimmed just 6-hundredths off Ledecky’s mark of 3:56.46, but the American’s winning time from the 2016 Olympic final was a landmark to aim for.

“I never thought that at this meet (Australian Championships), I’d be swimming faster than at an Olympics Trials or the Olympic Games,” Titmus said then. “But I suppose if you keep surprising yourself, it keeps the sport interesting.”

The balance of power seemed to shift at the Tokyo Olympics, Titmus outdueling Ledecky on their most neutral ground, the 400. Ledecky still bested Titmus in the 800 to go with the 1500 crown, while Titmus reigned in the 200 with Ledecky fifth.

It may be Ledecky’s decade of dominance that makes Titmus seem like the usurper, her younger foil. But by Paris, they should be co-equal stars in the distance reckoning. Titmus is 22, three years’ Ledecky’s junior. Both will be squarely in their primes when Paris arrives.

Titmus’ status among the internationally renowned hasn’t brought new pressure yet. The Australian program hadn’t put together a successful Olympics like Tokyo in years in a nation where Olympic success is highly scrutinized as the primary measure of achievement. Compatriots like Emma McKeon, Kaylee McKeown and Mollie O’Callaghan, all in different stages of excellent careers, shield Titmus from being the sole face of the program. Her gold medals have, in the words of Coach Dean Boxall, removed a monkey from her back.

That has freed her, she said, to just focus on her swimming. New levels of greatness have followed. “I have just loved swimming this last six months,” she said. “Going to training with no pressure, just enjoying the sport, it’s something that is underrated just how important that is.”

TOP 5 WORLD (Women)
1. ARIARNE TITMUS, Australia (6) 43
2. Katie Ledecky, USA (2) 41
3. Summer McIntosh, Canada (3) 39
4. Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden 16
5. Kaylee McKeown, Australia 13
(First-place votes in parentheses)

1. ARIARNE TITMUS, Australia (9) 52
2. Kaylee McKeown, Australia (1) 40
3. Mollie O’Callaghan, Australia (1) 38
4. Emma McKeon, Australia 18
5. Zhang Yufei, China 12

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Wow not even a mention of Summer in the written portion, and how close she was to the other 2? More 1st place votes then Ledecky? Especially since she looks to be a significant 3rd cog in the wheel of what may be the new ‘race of the century’ women’s 400 free ’24.

Wayne Johncock
Wayne Johncock
1 year ago

Watched Ariarne Titmus in Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 and she was out of this world – brilliant and very down to earth.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x