Australian Trials: Ariarne Titmus and the Aura That Surrounds The Olympic Champion As She Prepares for 400 Freestyle on Day One

Australian Olympic Trials
TRIALISTS: Zac Stubblety-Cook, Ariarne Titmus, Timothy Hodge and Alex Leary with Dolphins Head Coach Rohan Taylor (Centre).Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade's Photos).

Australian Trials: Ariarne Titmus and the Aura That Surrounds The Olympic Champion As She Prepares for 400 Freestyle on Day One

Australia’s dual Tokyo gold medallist Ariarne Titmus (St Peters Western, QLD) will take with her the aura of being the defending Olympic champion when she strides onto pool deck for day one of the Paris Trials in Brisbane tomorrow.

The opening sessions of the six-day Trials meet at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre will feature one of swimming’s true modern-day middle-distance freestyle superstars when Titmus lines up on Day One and Event One against world short course champion and Olympic hopeful Lani Pallister (Griffith University, QLD).

It is a blockbusting opening day that will also feature Titmus’ fellow Tokyo gold medallists, the world’s premier backstroker, Kaylee McKeown (Griffith University, QLD) in the 200IM and 50 and 100m freestyle gold medallist Emma McKeon (Griffith University, QLD) in the 100m butterfly.

FRONT AND CENTRE: Ariarne Titmus and Alex Leary (right) meet the press in Brisbane. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos).

The men’s 400m will feature world champions, Sam Short (Rackley, QLD) and Elijah Winnington (St Peters Western, QLD) in what will be a battle royal over eight laps.

Twenty-three-year-old Titmus escaped from her bubble to attend the event’s official press conference today, admitting that apart from her rigorous daily training routines at St Peters Western, in the inner Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly, she has rarely ventured outside in the week’s leading up to the meet – not even to the supermarket.

Titmus looked as fit and as lean as ever, alongside fellow Olympic gold medallist, 200m breaststroker Zac Stubblety-Cook, Paralympic world champions Timothy Hodge and Alexy Leary and Dolphins Head Coach Rohan Taylor – officially kick-starting activities on the eve of the opening day’s racing.

Hodge will also start his campaign on Day One – swimming the Multi-Class 400m freestyle – the first of five events on his busy five-day campaign.

Titmus revealed that the trials for Tokyo just felt like yesterday.

“A video came up on my phone this week, showing me after I had just made the team in 2021 in the 400 free. Giaan Rooney was interviewing me, and I just burst into tears,” recalled Titmus. The release of finally becoming an Olympian.

“I don’t have that pressure this time around….I am now an Olympian and I’ve won Olympic gold …one thing I’ve taken from those experiences ..once you become an Olympic champion you can take this aura with you, into these Trials.

“I know what to do…all I have to do is swim eight laps, four laps and 16 laps…..and I’m the most trained I possibly can be to do that.

“The confidence I can take with me can make the past seem a little bit more grounded…at the end of the day it’s just swimming. I’ll be taking everything I’ve learnt over the past three years with me…. all the experience …and really, it’s just another race….

“I’m looking forward to ticking that box (making the team) and racing my best in six weeks’ time in Paris.

“Winning Olympic gold is something you can never replicate in your life; other than that one moment…that initial moment is very hard to replicate in your life…

“Going to your first Olympic Games there are a lot of unknowns….and some naivety which can be a good thing…

‘Knowing what to expect now having done it before I think you can take a lot of learnings from that and put them into practice; you can find smarter and more efficient ways of getting better.

“I’ve learnt a lot about my swimming over the past three years…I have grown so much as an athlete but more so as a person.

‘I think that’s contributed to how I’ve felt in the water…and my hunger and motivation levels…. after the last Olympics I felt I needed a moment to let that hunger build back up …and it’s there….

PRESSING TIMES: Ariarne Titmus surrounded in Brisbane. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photos).

“My health scare last year put things into perspective…and  is  probably the best thing that could have happened to me to be honest…swimming is just swimming…you are only young once and you have to make the most of this moment in your life….and the chance I have to race at the Olympics….not only just to be an Olympian but fighting for medals and gold medals is very rare..

“So, I have to take every opportunity that I can and enjoy the moment and when I was younger, I was always thinking of the next thing….

“But as I’m getting older, I am realizing I have to sink into the moment and enjoy it…the Olympic Trials is like nothing else, and a lot of people get nervous for it of course as you only have one chance to get on the team…

“And I’m excited to get out there and race….and have some fun….and start thinking about why I started swimming…. I just loved the water and loved swimming….and remind yourself….of all those things that made you want to swim in the first place.”

WOMENS’s 400m freestyle: Ariarne Titmus (St Peters Western, QLD: Coach Dean Boxall) The defending Olympic and 2023 World Champion and world record holder (3:55.38/Fukuoka ‘23) holds a five-year unbeaten record over the 400m since her 2019 World Championship triumph in Gwangju. Has swum five of the 10 fastest times in history (see below). Comes into these Trials ranked the current No 2 in the world (behind Canada’s former world record holder Summer McIntosh – 3:59.06) with her Australian Open winning time of 3:59.13 swum on the Gold Coast last month.

 One to Watch: Lani Pallister (Griffith University, QLD; Coach Michael Bohl) has been in the best form of her life, with the 2022 World Short Course Champion clocking her LC pb of 4:01.75 (second fastest Australian and #6 in the world for 2023-24). Can Pallister begin the 2024 Trials in a perfect fashion after the heartbreak of 2021 when she missed the Tokyo team. Nomination would see Lani realise a lifetime dream of following her mother Janelle into the Olympic ranks. And in doing so will she become the latest female under 4 minutes? – Joining Titmus, McIntosh, Katie Ledecky (USA), Federica Pellegrini (ITA) and Erika Fairweather (NZL) in the sub-4-minute club.

MEN’S 400m Freestyle: A must watch duel in the pool if ever there was one will see two world champions Sam Short(Rackley, QLD; Coach Damien Jones) 2023); and Elijah Winnington (St Peters Western, QLD: Coach Dean Boxall), 2022; – two of the fastest 10 swimmers in history – both with claims to win Australia’s seventh gold medal in the Olympic 400m freestyle in Paris. Short has a pb of 3:40.68 – just over half-a-second outside the world record and Ian Thorpe’s Australian record (the second fastest time in history). Winnington’s winning time from the ’22 Worlds 3:41.22, is only a stroke behind.

Others To Watch: The only others in the field with times under 3:50 under are Matthew Galea (SOPAC, NSW; Coach Adam Kable) 3:47.54 and Brendon Smith (Griffith University, QLD; Coach Michael Bohl) the Tokyo bronze medallist in the 400IM 3:47.95 who will use the event as an early prep swim for his IMs – with both boys looking for personal bests.

WOMEN’S  100m butterfly: Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist and Australian record holder Emma McKeon (Griffith University, QLD; Coach Michael Bohl) has been on song in butterfly events throughout 2023-24 – and that’s a scary prospect for the fifth fastest 100m flyer in history, the only Australian ever to clock under 56 with her 55.77. To get down to that kind of form will book her a ticket to Paris on night two of the Trials and you can rest assured that her fellow two-time Olympian Brianna Throssell (St Peters Western, QLD: Coach Dean Boxall), with a pb of 56.72 will be tracking her all the way down that second lap – the last 25m holding the key in a ding-dong finish.

Others To Watch: The likes of Alex Perkins (USC Spartans, QLD; Coach Mick Palfrey) 57.48 Lilly Price(Rackley, QLD; Coach Damien Jones) 57.64 and World Championship silver medallist and Commonwealth Games champion over 200m ‘fly Lizzy Dekkers (Chandler, QLD; coach Vince Raleigh).

WOMEN’S 200 IM: Kaylee McKeown (Griffith University, QLD; Coach Michael Bohl) sent a firm message to the world at the 2024 Australian Open Championships – “count me in” for the 200m IM in Paris after clocking 2:06.99 (the only swimmer under 2:07 in ’24) to break the Australian National record on the Gold Coast. The 22-year-old became the fifth fastest performer in history – and only the fifth swimmer to break 2:07.00, including the Australian record of 2:07.03 set by Beijing Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rice in 2008 in Beijing.

 One To Watch: 2023 World championship bronze medallist over 400IM Jenna Forrester (St Peters Western, QLD: Coach Dean Boxall), has swum under the qualifying time of 2:10.62 with her 2:08.98 to finish fourth in the 2023 Worlds in Fukuoka. Ella Ramsay (Chandler, QLD; Coach Vince Raleigh) is one of the big movers in 2023-24, clocking her personal best of 2:10.71 – just outside the QT (2:10.62) when second to McKeown on the Gold Coast. Selection on the team for Paris would see Ella follow her father, 200 flyer Heath Ramsay(Sydney 2000) into the Australian Olympians club.


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22 days ago

Its ON!
Tonight should be very exciting with both Men’s and Women’s 400m freestyles.
Can Titmus lay down a marker again to McIntosh and Ledecky by blasting a WR? Will Pallister break into the sub 4min club? Hopefully a Big YES to both!
Then the Men’s. What do Short and Winnington have in store? Do they go all out in the rivalry and smash the WR? Or play it safe and cagey doing just enough to comfortably qualify. Leaving the real fireworks for Paris against Martins?
Can’t wait!

22 days ago
Reply to  Kanga1

My Predictions:
Arianne does a mid 3;57 or high 3:56 and Pallister a 3:59 high.
Men’s is a non event as both boys are almost too cautious laying down high 3:43s to mid 3:44s, allowing a dark horse to nearly scare them!

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