Commonwealth Games Priority Leaves Ariarne Titmus-Katie Ledecky 400m Freestyle Showdown II On Hold

Arnie Tokyo dive Delly Carr
BIRMINGHAM BOUND: The 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games will be top priority for Ariarne Titmus. Photo: Courtesy Delly Carr.

Dual Tokyo Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus has revealed she wants to be at her peak for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and that may mean she won’t defend her world 400m freestyle crown three months earlier.

A decision that could also mean that the next big showdown between swimming’s female freestyle heavyweights – Titmus and her US nemesis Katie Ledecky may have to wait until the 2023 Fina World Championships in Doha or 2024 Olympics in Paris.

titmus ledecky edit

SISTERS IN ARMS: Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky locked together on pool deck after their epic 400m in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

The 2022 Fina World Championships will be swum in Fukuoka before the 2022 Birmingham Games but Titmus is adamant she wants to defend her Commonwealth Games titles over 400, 800 and 4x200m freestyle relay, and add the 200 she just missed in 2018 on the Gold Coast.

To target the Commonwealth Games could well mean she will by-pass the World’s and not defend her world 400m title which she snatched from Ledecky in Gwangju in 2019.

“I want to be at my peak for Commonwealth Games; I want to be swimming very well there,” said Titmus

“I loved the Gold Coast Games in 2018. Those Commonwealth Games for me felt like a mini Olympics and I want to really be swimming my best that I can there.”

Titmus has a record second to none against Ledecky – beating the greatest ever women’s freestyler twice on the world’s biggest stages.

And the build up to Paris 2024 with Ledecky primed to win an unprecedented fourth 800m freestyle gold and Titmus out to defend her 200 and 400 crowns and determined to also spoil Ledecky’s historic party in the 800m will be mouth-watering stuff.

Arnie Tokyo raised arm Delly Carr

TOKYO TRIUMPH: Ariarne Titmus raised the bar in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

In an already glittering career the 21-year-old Titmus has won 200 and 400 Olympic gold; 400 and 800m Commonwealth Games gold and she has won the 400m freestyle, both long course and short course.

The 400m showdown in Tokyo was the most highly anticipated of all swimming events and one of the most anticipated races in any sport – a TV ratings showstopper in Australia and in the US.


And it was Titmus who delivered one of the real golden moments of the Games for Australia when she rained on Ledecky’s parade in the 400m and then added the 200m for good measure.

Ledecky beat Titmus to defend her 800m freestyle gold medals, adding Toyko gold to her London and Rio wins, also adding the inaugural 1500m gold.

It’s a busy year for Australia’s Dolphins in 2022, with the FINA World Championships in Fukuoka in May followed by the Birmingham Games in July-August – a meet that has always loomed large on the Australian sporting calendar.

But for Titmus, who returned to competition at the Queensland State Championships last month, winning both the 400 and 800 metres, the World’s are not definite.

The Commonwealth Games is certainly part of the grand plan for Titmus and coach Dean Boxall and she has made her intentions quite clear.

Together with coach Boxall, Titmus is still trying to figure out what the lead up to Birmingham will look like and whether or not World’s is on the cards or if it’s a meet they miss to focus on training for the Commonwealth Games.

“Either way it’s going to be a very busy year…I feel like it could potentially be as busy if not busier than 2021,” said Titmus.

“I still have to figure out a few details but I can definitely say that it’s at the Commonwealth Games where I definitely want to be at my best.”

Arnie Tokyo with Dean Delly Carr

TOUCHING MOMENT: Ariarne Titmus and coach Dean Boxall after the epic 400m freestyle gold. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

The Australian World Championship Trials are in April and those swimmers who make the World’s team (two per event) will automatically qualify for the Commonwealth Games team.

Commonwealth Games allows for three individual spots but those that don’t make the World’s team will have the opportunity to qualify at either the Sydney Open Meet at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre or the Monte Carlo (Monaco) Mare Nostrum meet to qualify for that third spot (if swimmers) are overseas after Worlds.

“It’s  good to know you (still) have that opportunity to make that team for Birmingham,” Titmus said.

“It means even if you don’t make World’s and most of your squad does and they are training overseas you could potentially tag along and then just race in Monaco to try and make the Commonwealth Games team and go straight to the (scheduled) Staging Camp in France.

“Or you stay home, swim the Sydney Open and fly straight to Staging Camp – either way I think they are good options.”

And a slice of Commonwealth Games history awaits Titmus, who will target the 200, 400 and 800m – a triple only ever achieved once before – by Australian Karen Moras in Edinburgh in 1970 and the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Canada’s teen sensation Taylor Ruck stopped Titmus in 2018, edging the Australian out by just 0.04 in a gripping 200m on the Gold Coast and robbing her of a fourth gold.

And only one swimmer, the great Australian Tracey Wickham has ever defended the 400 and 800m freestyle double and she did that in Edmonton in 1978 and Brisbane in 1982.

And no Australian woman has even won the 200, 400, 800 and the 4x200m freestyle relay at one Games – a team Titmus was also part of in 2018.

Such is the depth of the Dolphins, Birmingham seems like the perfect place for history to be made and to set the records straight.

Australian Swimming Trials: SA Aquatic And Leisure Centre, Adelaide (April 4-9). Television – Amazon Prim

19th Fina World Swimming Championships: Marine Messe, Fukuoka (May 13-29) Television – TBD

XXII Commonwealth Games: Birmingham (July 28-August 8) Television – Seven Network

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Caeleb Dressel = GOAT
Caeleb Dressel = GOAT
2 years ago


No one goes to Worlds to chill.

Elite swimmers make those statements to take the pressure off themselves.

Wake up Swimming world and stop trolling. She will go to Fukuoka and win the 200 and 400 easy.

2 years ago

I was interested to read in SW’s earlier article that Ariarne Titmus had Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) orthobiological injections in both her shoulder AND hip for a reported “shoulder injury” in the lead-up to the Olympics. That would seem highly unorthodox as injection goes to the injury site in a PRP regimen. Anti-doping rules can be strict on mixing substances, altering PRP injections, applying them intra-muscularly or injecting pure growth factor–so let’s hope Titmus’ injections were correctly administered and/or monitored.

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