Commonwealth Games: Ariarne Titmus Fights Off Furious Charge By Mollie O’Callaghan For Gold in 200 Freestyle

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Commonwealth Games: Ariarne Titmus Fights Off Furious Charge By Mollie O’Callaghan For Gold in 200 Freestyle

There was chatter ahead of the final of the women’s 200-meter freestyle at the Commonwealth Games that Federica Pellegrini’s 13-year-old record might finally be broken. Why? Well, when Ariarne Titmus is in the race, world records are on watch. Ultimately, the super-suit standard survived, but not before Titmus and training partner Mollie O’Callaghan engaged in a superb duel at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

The reigning Olympic champion, Titmus withstood a late charge from O’Callaghan to prevail in 1:53.89. O’Callaghan was just behind in a career-best of 1:54.01 and, given the way she was surging, simply ran out of room. Australia completed a sweep of the podium when Madison Wilson touched the wall in 1:56.17, ahead of England’s Freya Anderson, who was fourth in 1:56.83.

Meet Results

When Titmus took down Katie Ledecky’s world record in the 400 freestyle at the Australian Trials in May, that performance also begged a question: When will the Olympic champion break the long-standing record of Pellegrini in the 200 freestyle? Prior to Commonwealths, Titmus had approached the world record on three occasions, including a best of 1:53.09. At Commonwealths, she was under world-record pace through the opening lap. Titmus now owns four sub-1:54 efforts during her career.

Ariarne Titmus

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Titmus was out in 27.01 and went through the midway point of the race in 56.14, with O’Callaghan following at 56.76. With 50 meters remaining, Titmus was at 1:24.97, followed by O’Callaghan at 1:25.73. Down the last length, O’Callaghan closed the gap with each stroke and punctuated her swim with a split of 28.28, compared to the 28.92 of Titmus.

“Mol’s been killing it in training,” Titmus said. “She’s young, she’s fiesty, she’s hungry and I knew she’d be there. It’s fun to have a race. I’m pretty happy with the time considering the prep that I’ve had.”

En route to her Commonwealth Games record, Titmus aided a spectacular start to competition by the Australians, who also swept the medals in the men’s 400 freestyle. Coached by Dean Boxall, Titmus opted to skip the World Championships last month in Budapest and place her attention on Birmingham. She still has work ahead in the 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle, along with the 800 freestyle relay.

At this point in her career, Titmus is following a two-year plan toward the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, where she will chase repeats of her Tokyo Olympic titles in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle. Along the way, Pellegrini’s world record might come into play, and O’Callaghan is a domestic foe who can provide a boost in the case.

Unlike Titmus, O’Callaghan chose to race at the World Championships and enjoyed a superb meet, highlighted by a gold medal in the 100 freestyle. She also won the silver medal in the 200 freestyle, with her time from Birmingham more than a second faster than the 1:55.22 she managed in Budapest.

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