One of our 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal swimming hopes hails from the cooler waters of Tasmania. But she’s been lured up to Queensland to give her the best chance of success on the Gold Coast.
Josh Martin reports.
Seventeen-year-old Ariarne Titmus always had the natural talent to succeed at swimming.
But growing up in Tasmania where the sport is less popular, left her a solitary figure.
Ariarne Titmus, Australian Swimmer: “In Tassie they don’t really have the standards of racing or training down there that you would up here. I had to make the move if I wanted to go further in the sport.”
Her supportive family helped turn her fortunes around.
Ariarne Titmus, Australian Swimmer: “I don’t think many people have parents who would pack up everything and leave, we organised it all in two months. It’s a big sacrifice for them but I’m really grateful.”
She joined Brisbane’s St Peters Western Club 18 months ago, following in the path of some Australia’s swimming legends.
Dean Boxall, Ariarne’s Coach: “Stephanie Rice would be the big one, 2008 triple gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics.”
The rewards have come early for Titmus, who prefers the longer distance events.
She qualified for the FINA world championships in Budapest this year at the ripe age of 16 winning a Bronze Medal in the four by 200 metre freestyle relay.
And performed a personal best in the 400 metres freestyle final, putting her in a great position for the Commonwealth Games.
Journalist: “And will you be be glad there’ll be no Katie Ledecky at the Comm Games?”
Ariarne Titmus, Australian Swimmer: “Obviously it will be easier for me to win a gold medal there without her in the race. But I like racing Katie because she is the pinnacle.”
One thing that will be present on the Gold Coast next year is an intense weight of expectation from home fans and the media.
Something Australian swimmers know all too well.
Mitch Larkin, Olympic Silver Medalist: “It’s tough at times, sort of after finishing silver in Rio it was Mitch didn’t win gold rather than Mitch wins silver. As an athlete that hurts quite a lot.”
Fortunately for Ariarne, as she’s known to the team, there’s plenty of advice on how to deal with the pressure.
Mitch Larkin, Olympic Silver Medalist: “You learn a lot about someone when you train with them and she’s really tough and resilient.”
Unlike previous Games the Australian qualifiers have been scheduled a month before the big event this time, providing a competitive build-up for the swimmers.
Dean Boxall, Ariarne’s Coach: “Sometimes there’s tears but they wipe them away with some laughter at the end.”
It’s a long road to the Commonwealth Games for these gold medal hopefuls. But come next April they’ll be competing in front of a parochial crowd. Every session of the swimming is sold out.
While Titmus is hoping to fulfil expectation at home, she’s set her sights on swimming’s ultimate prize.
Gold Coast 2018 could be Titmus’ watershed moment, from there she hopes to ride a wave of success all the way to Tokyo 2020.
Josh Martin, QUT News.