Titmus Test For An Excited And Nervous ‘Arnie’ Who Returns to Brisbane’s Crowded House

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WHAT A RELIEF: Ariarne Titmus realises a childhood dream with Tokyo Olympic gold. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Titmus Test For An Excited And Nervous “Arnie” Who Returns to Brisbane’s Crowded House

One of Australia’s Tokyo golden girls Ariarne Titmus arrived at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre today and unlike her Olympic successes at a Games swum in empty Stadiums, the 21-year-old returned to racing in front of a crowded house.

Titmus joined fellow Games gold medallists Zac Stubblety-Cook, Meg Harris, Mollie O’Callaghan and Chelsea Hodges for the seven-day McDonald’s Queensland State Championships which has attracted over 1600 individual competitors from 146 clubs, many who have found new homes in Queensland and South Australia in an unprecedented post-Olympic transfer rush.

Today’s State Relays session was a sellout with 1069 teams from 61 clubs with Titmus (St Peters Western) joining her teammates including Shayna Jackresuming racing after a two-and-a-half-year lay off after a positive doping violation, before her full book of freestyle races from 50m through 1500m.

A vastly different story to swimming in front of the empty stands in Tokyo. The meet will run from today Saturday December 11 (AET) through December 17 with the major open finals set down for tomorrow Sunday December 12 through Tuesday December 14. FINALS from 6pm (AET).

It marks the official return to racing after Australia’s record-breaking nine Gold medal haul, adding three silver and nine bronze medals for a total of 21 medals overall.

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GOLDEN MOMENT: Ariarne Titmus celebrates a golden moment in Tokyo Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Fellow individual gold medallists Emma McKeon (Griffith University) and Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans) will both miss the meet.

Four-time Tokyo gold medallist and now Australia’s most success Olympian with five gold and a total of 11 medals, McKeon only arrived home from Europe this week from the International Swimming League (ISL) with the London Roar.

And after completing an extraordinary 90-race haul between Toyko, the World Cup circuit and the ISL, coach Michael Bohl is happy for McKeon to “bundy back on” later in the New Year – heading back to the family home in Wollongong for a well deserved break.

While triple Olympic backstroke champion McKeown, is managing the shoulder tear she suffered before the Games, refined to kick sets as she sets her sights on a racing return in Sydney next year.

“The past two weeks I’ve pretty much cleared my calendar, after a hectic four months of commitments because I’m racing this weekend. I actually wanted to try and recover and to start and feel half normal again in the pool,” said Titmus when she spoke at length with Swimming World after training in Brisbane this week.

“I’m excited to race again but I’m also very nervous because I’m not going to be swimming any fast times at all. I’m so far off where I was and my expectations are very low.”

And it comes after archrival Katie Ledecky’s four wins at the US Open Meet last week in North Carolina including a new meet record of 4:00.51 in the 400m freestyle and one of her fastest ever 800s, a new US Open Meet record of 8:12.81 – just outside her gold medal time in Tokyo

“What Katie has done is just crazy….I don’t know how long she had out of the water but all I know is I needed a massive break after the Olympics, I’ll be happy if I can swim a PB plus 10 in the 400m freestyle this week,” said Titmus.

“”So I’m definitely at a different stage of my swimming at the moment.

“I’ve taken it pretty slow, easing it back in; the past two years have been so full on.

“I could not have imaged getting straight back into training…. or racing. I just needed that break…. even now I’m still not ready mentally where I was at prior to the Olympics; I’m still trying to enjoy swimming for what it is without much pressure.

“So for this week’s racing there is no pressure on myself from my coach Dean Boxall or me and I wasn’t expecting to swim fast now I want to be peaking for the middle of next year.”

The past four months have been really hectic post Toyko for Titmus – with her return coinciding with a major Ashes Cricket Series between Australia and England that kicked off this week in her home town Brisbane – the 2032 Olympic city.

“The first two months when I wasn’t swimming after coming home from the Olympics was just so full on,” said Titmus.

“One or two or even more commitments every day…speaking events, virtual speaking events, media opportunities, photo shoots, dinners, lunches, doing just about everything I could while I had that spare time.

“And managing that after being back in the pool was really challenging but I think I handled that really well and the past two weeks I’ve pretty much cleared my calendar because I’m racing this weekend.

“I actually wanted to try and recover and to start and feel half normal again in the pool.

“I feel like I’m very refreshed. I actually feel like my break starts now. I’m excited to race again….but I’m also very nervous because I’m not going to be swimming any fast times at all…

“I’m so far off where I was…my expectations are very low…. what Katie (Ledecky) has done is crazy….

“I don’t know how long she had out of the water but all I know is I needed a massive break after the Olympics….

“I’ll be happy if I can swim a PB plus 10 in the 400m…. so I’m definitely at a different stage of my swimming at the moment.

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MASKED AND MEDALLED: Ariarne Titmus enjoys the podium moment. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

“I’ve taken it pretty slow, easing it back in….the past two years have been so full on…. I could not have imaged getting straight back into training…. or racing. I just needed that break…. even now I’m still not ready mentally where I was at prior to the Olympics I’m still trying to enjoy swimming or what it is without much pressure….

“I have entered the 1500m on the Wednesday and will swim depending on how my body is holding up because I still have to manage my shoulder, it’s not perfect.

“Its definitely a lot better. I’ve still got to manage the load. So if my shoulder’s holding up I’ll definitely swim the 1500m…I’m not expecting too much..

“It will be more of a training swim really….that’s why (our St Peters Western Squad) are all racing so many events….to keep our volume up…

“Dean has us entered in all the relays….as well….it’s going to be full on competition….50, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500m…Dean has made everyone in the program swim 1500m ..

“He’s not expecting us to go amazing; just build the 500s..doing it as a team (bonding) thing …

“To be truthful I hate the 1500m. I swim the 800 so you can imagine how someone like Shayna Jack (a 50-200m swimmer) feels….?

“I’ll have to stop complaining I think!”

And on Shayna Jack’s return?

“It would have been a tough slog for her….I could not have imagined being in her situation,” said Titmus.

“I’m glad she is able to swim again….and do what she wants to do….I know I’d be very excited to race again for the first time….I hope it all goes well for her this week.”

And her plans for the week?

“This is the first meet in a long time where it doesn’t matter if I swim bad,” said Jack.

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COACHES COMFORT: Dean Boxall comforts his champion swimmer. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

“It means I can have more of a presence in the club and be more of a role model to the younger swimmers and hang around a bit longer after my races if my recovery isn’t perfect it doesn’t matter.

“I am looking forward to that aspect because I’ve never really had that before, while being part of this level. That’s going to be a once in a while meet that I get to experience this.

“I’m looking forward to that and because of the number of races we’re doing there isn’t the expectation on times.

“It’s just about getting in there and doing your best and seeing where you are at.

“I know my swimming isn’t at the level that it usually is…I’m just excited to have fun while racing….”

 

Changing Lanes On Coaching Roundabout

Individual 400IM bronze medallist Brendon Smith (Nunawading, VIC) is the latest who is preparing to re-locate to SE Queensland) and relay bronze medallists Brianna Throssell and Tamsin Cook (who have transferred form UWA West Coast/WA to USC Spartans), Isaac Cooper and Tommy Neill (Centenary Rackley) have entered in the meet.

Smith is believed to be tossing up a move to either Michael Bohl (Griffith Uni) or Vince Raleigh (Chandler).

Throssell and Cook are leading a transfer list with the Olympic medallists following their newly appointed USC Spartans head coach Mick Palfrey. They join triple Olympic champion McKeown, who will stay in the program after trialing with Dean Boxall, Michael Bohl and her former USC coach Chris Mooney who is now head coach at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

Triple Olymian and three-time Olympic medallist Australia’s premier backstroker Mitch Larkin who has found another home under Vince Raleigh at Chandler, parting amicably and thankfully from Dean Boxall.Olympic 1500m finalist Madeleine Gough, who has also moved to the respected and experienced Raleigh and alongside his Olympic 400m freestyle silver medallist Jack McLaughlin at Chandler.

The move follows Chris Nesbit’s appoimntment as the new head coach to bolster the Carlile program in Sydney.

She has also been joined by fellow distance specialist Moesha Johnson a former TSS Aquatic club mate.Tokyo 4x100m freestyle gold medallist Harris, who has transferred to Marion SA from St Peters Western to train with Peter Bishop and alongside Kyle Chalmers (now back home after a recurrence of a shoulder injury which has forced him out of the World SC Championships) with Tokyo relay freestyle bronze medallist Zac Incerti (UWA West Coast) also linking with his best mate Chalmers.

Tokyo Olympic 4x100m medley relay breaststroker Chelsea Hodges (Southport Olympic, QLD) who also remains under coach Sean Eels at the newly-created Swimming Australia Hub at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

Dual Olympic finalist over 800 and 1500m Kiah Melverton, who also joins Olympic gold medal coach Dean Boxall and his super-charged Olympic champion Titmus at St Peters Western from TSS Aquatic.

Olympic 4x100m freestyle relay gold medallist O’Callaghan; individual medley and breaststroke specialist Abbey Harkin, and Olympic 400m freestyle finalist Elijah Winnington, who will all remain under Boxall at Australia’s premier club, St Peters Western.Games 4x200m freestyle debutant and bronze medal anchorman Thomas Neill and Mixed medley relay backstroke prodigy Isaac Cooper, who remain under Damien Jones in the Rackley Centenary program.

Dual Olympian from Rio and Tokyo David Morgan, who has linked up with Richard Scarce at Rackley’s Miami on the Gold Coast after the change in structure at TSS Aquatic