Ariarne Titmus recovers after taking out the final of the women's 800m freestyle at the World Swimming Trials at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre on Wednesday. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Ariarne Titmus recovers after taking out the final of the women's 800m freestyle at the World Swimming Trials at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre on Wednesday. Picture: Darren England/AAP

Titmus aiming to become Rafa Nadal of the pool

TOPPLING US giant Katie Ledecky would be the greatest achievement of Ariarne Titmus's short career and she's taking her inspiration to be the greatest from a totally different sport.

The Australian 18-year-old aims to become the Rafael Nadal of the pool.

Titmus  is primed to finally threaten Ledecky at next month's world titles in South Korea after a successful foray at the selection trials in Brisbane this week.

Her highlight at the six-day trials was clocking a 400m freestyle Commonwealth record on Sunday night, just 0.07 of a second behind Ledecky's 2019 best, which was set on the same day at a US meet.

However, rather than be known as five-time Olympic gold medallist Ledecky's conqueror, Titmus aims to be considered in the same company as her idol - 18-time grand slam tennis champion Nadal.

Titmus said she hit the selection trials in Brisbane still buzzing from Nadal's 12th French Open triumph.

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus in action in the women's 800m freestyle.
Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus in action in the women's 800m freestyle.

"I admire Rafael Nadal. He is my favourite athlete for being on top of his sport for that long," Titmus said.

"I am trying to be someone like him.

"You never know. I will keep staying positive and keep chipping away."

Yet Ledecky is also an inspiration to Titmus.

The American has set an impossibly high yard stick in women's distance swimming since winning 2012 Olympic 800m gold at just 15.

The 22-year-old holds the world records in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle.

Rather than fear Ledecky, an unfazed Titmus said the American's feats had only motivated her to aim higher.

"I am grateful for Katie," said Titmus, who also holds the 200m freestyle Commonwealth record and national 800m mark.

"If you don't have someone who pushes you I don't think I would be as fast as I am.

"If you always have something to chase, you are always going to get better."

Her animated coach, Dean Boxall, is another major motivating factor. The hard-marking mentor is never satisfied, even asking for improvement from Titmus moments after her stunning 400m record effort at the trials.

"Sometimes you have to be happy with swims, but we set pretty high standards," Titmus said of Boxall.

"After my PB (personal best) in the 400m most people would be happy, but I am in a situation where I want to beat someone who is the greatest (Ledecky).

"I can't have that mentality where I am happy with a swim when I am trying to beat someone who is the greatest."

News Corp Australia


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