Aussie sensation Ariarne Titmus has fired a warning shot at American superstar Katie Ledecky ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The rivalry in the pool between Australia and the US is starting to seriously heat up ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
A pair of young Australian swimming stars have put America and the world on notice at the Olympic trials this week.
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Middle-distance specialist Ariarne Titmus has set the pool alight in Adelaide, breaking the Australian and Commonwealth records in the 400m and 200m freestyle.
Her time of 3:56.90 is the fastest time in the world this year and the closest any swimmer has come to breaking American superstar Katie Ledecky’s legendary world record of 3:56.46 set at the Rio Olympics.
Titmus’ 200m freestyle time of 1:53.09 at the trials is also the second fastest time in history and significantly faster than Ledecky’s season best of 1:54.40.
The 200m world record is held by Italian Federica Pellegrini after being set in 2009, but it was during the supersuit era.
Titmus was just 0.11 short of the world record.
Australian swimming legend Grant Hackett declared that it was “the greatest 200m freestyle swim we have ever seen from a woman because Pellegrini did that in a supersuit back in 2009. That is unbelievable.”
The 20-year-old Australian took huge chucks off her personal best times in both races and is in ominous form.
“I would say we’d have a very nervous Katie Ledecky over in the United States right now,” former Australian swimmer Nicole Livingstone said in commentary on Amazon Prime.
And Titmus will be confident she can take it right up to Ledecky in Tokyo after handing the six-time Olympic gold medallist her first international defeat the 400m freestyle at the 2019 world championships.
Ledecky won the 400m freestyle at the US trials on Tuesday (AEST) and qualified for her third Olympics, but her time of 4:01.27 was much slower than expected and well below her best.
“I thought I could go a little faster than that, so I’m a little surprised. But I’ll take it for now,” she said after the race.
“It’s just good to be here and lock in my spot.”
“I’m not going to be checking results every couple hours or anything,” Ledecky said when asked about Titmus’ performances.
“The medals aren’t given this week, so I don’t think we have to get too caught up in what times people are going here versus anywhere else in the world right now.”
Making the duel in the pool even more intriguing is that the US Olympic trials are occurring at the same time as Australia’s on the other side of the world, giving the world’s best swimmers the chance to respond to their rivals day after day.
On Sunday night, 19-year-old Australian Kaylee McKeown broke the 100m backstroke world record in a sizzling swim, taking 0.12sec off the previous mark held by another American Regan Smith. The teenager hit back in the semi-finals of the US trials, posting an excellent 57.92.
US Olympic champion in the 100m breastroke Lily King sparked a war of words between the swimming giants, declaring the US could win every individual women’s gold in Tokyo.
Titmus hit back, telling the Sydney Morning Herald: “After Kaylee tonight, I think there’s the backstroke gone”.
“We have chances in a lot of other events. I feel like the Olympics is not going to be all America’s way — there are other countries coming through.”
Titmus, who is affectionately known as The Terminator, was also bullish about her own chances in Tokyo.
“(Ledecky’s) not going to have it all her own way,” she said.
“I can’t control what she does, if I do the best I can and put myself in the position to win a gold medal, it’s going to be a tough race.”