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Ariarne Titmus: Five things you did not know about the world champion

The Australian became a superstar after being Katie Ledecky, but did you know that people used to doubt her because of her 'lack of strength'?

4 min By Andrew Binner
ariarne titmus
(Picture by 2019 Getty Images)

A lot of people know Ariarne Titmus for being the swimmer that beat Katie Ledecky.

When the Australian shocked the five-time Olympic champion to win the 400m freestyle at the 2019 world championships in Gwangju, Korea, it basically broke the swimtnernet.

While the coronavirus pandemic robbed swimming fans of a glorious rematch at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics less than a year later, the desire to see them meet again has hardly subsided.

To add even more expectation on Titmus’ young shoulders ahead of the rescheduled Games in 2021, no Australian woman has won an individual Olympic swimming title since Stephanie Rice in 2008.

But how well do you know Tasmanian-born Titmus?

Ariarne Titmus shocked the swimming world when she beat Katie Ledecky at the 2019 Aquatics World Championships in Gwangju, Korea.
Ariarne Titmus shocked the swimming world when she beat Katie Ledecky at the 2019 Aquatics World Championships in Gwangju, Korea.

1 - She used to lack strength

Most people assume that swimmers are born to move fast in the water, with naturally big shoulders and powerful limbs. And they’d mostly be right.

But Titmus broke that mold with her slight frame, meaning she had to work even harder than most in the beginning.

“I was never the most talented swimmer,” she told Olympic Channel’s ‘Incoming Call’. “I was always quite a finely-built girl. I never had any strength but I got where I am because I trained really hard.

“When I was younger, people never thought that I would be successful in swimming. So I think if you believe you can do it, do it. Train hard and be dedicated.” - Ariarne Titmus to Olympic Channel.

The message is clear: hard work will always win through in elite swimming.

2 - A big self-talker

Like many elite athletes, Titmus employs sports psychology tools to ensure she always performs at her best.

While swimming training can be sometimes monotonous, these techniques mean she rarely loses focus.

"Motivating myself for training is always super easy because I always have my goals," she told Olympic Channel in an interview for her ‘Olympic State of Mind’ episode.

"I try to keep them in the front of my mind and I try to do a lot of self-talk, and repeat them. I remember the positive things I've done in previous races.

"I'm motivated by the things I want to achieve in my career. Most people understand that you can't achieve if you don't put the work in.”

You can watch the rest of that interview below!

3 - Getting in the zone with rock music

Another tool the 20-year-old uses is music. Specifically rock.

While that’s certainly not exclusive to Titmus, what is surprising is that she borrows her mum’s playlist!

“She's a bit of a headbanger,” the world champion told Olympic Channel. “She has Bon Jovi, AC/DC, INXS, John Farnham... then, you know, a bit of Adele will pop in there and I skip that one.

“I'm not usually a rock music fan, but for some reason listening to it loud before I race kind of just gets me going.

“I'm a little bit superstitious in the sense that I try to create the same routine before I race so I like to keep that the same.”

Ariarne Titmus uses a rock music playlist to get her into racing mode.
Ariarne Titmus uses a rock music playlist to get her into racing mode. (2018 Getty Images)

4 - Unwinding in the kitchen

What goes up, must comes down and swimmers also need to find a way to stay relaxed away from the pool.

Chad le Clos plugs into video games, Caeleb Dressel plays the drums, and Titmus likes to cook.

Her passion took on an even bigger significance during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, where she experimented with new dishes to entertain herself.

Titmus and her cooking skills feature prominently on Olympic Channel series ‘Athletes to Watch - Tokyo 2020’.

You view her episode, which also has interviews with her parents and charismatic coach, below.

5 - Respect for Rafa Nadal

When asked which other athlete she’d most like to watch perform at the Olympics in Tokyo, there was no hesitation.

“Oh, that's easy for me. I'm a massive Rafael Nadal fan,” she said. “I love tennis and I love watching Rafael. I just love his passion for the sport, his passion to win and his fight.

“I've been wanting to go down to the Australian Open in Melbourne and see him play for so long. I was planning on doing that after the Olympics before they were postponed - (coach) Dean was going to let me go down to miss training.”

There’s a good chance she’d bump into the Spaniard in the Olympic village. But would she say ‘Hi’?

“I don't know. I think I'd be a bit starstruck. I think I'd be too scared to go over. I don't know!”

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