Swimming: Ariarne Titmus may not race against Katie Ledecky in 200m at Pan Pacs
ARIARNE Titmus will go head-to-head with distance queen Katie Ledecky over the 400m and 800m at the Pan Pacs next month but could drop the event in which she has most chance of beating the Olympic champion.
Titmus has entered the 200m freestyle at next month’s Tokyo championships but will focus on distance events at the meet and may not swim the individual four-lap event.
Ledecky holds the world record in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle – all events she will swim in Tokyo next month.
And while she won Olympic gold in the 200m in Rio, she was beaten at last year’s world championships and is most vulnerable over the shorter distance.
While Ledecky holds the world’s fastest time in the event this year, it is just 0.25sec ahead of Canadian Taylor Ruck - who won Commonwealth Games gold on the Gold Coast – and 0.29 ahead of Titmus.
But Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren said Titmus would focus on the longer events at Pan Pacs and hinted she may not race the 200m.
“She’s focusing a little bit more on the longer distance at the moment,” Verhaeren said.
“That’s long-term planning. It’s definitely her (long-term) aim (to take on Ledecky).
“With a younger athlete, it’s good coming from a little bit more volume coming down leading into an Olympics.
“And her coach understands that very well.”
It’s a long-term strategy designed to have Titmus at her best over 200m, 400m and 800m by the 2020 Olympics, even if it may sacrifice her best medal race next month.
“She’s entered (the 200m), let’s put it that way,” Verhaeren said of the 17-year-old’s Pan Pac race schedule.
“We’re not sure (if she will swim it).”
Titmus said she had been focusing on the 800m since April’s Commonwealth Games.
“My 800m I probably wasn’t as happy with at the Comm Games as other races, so I’ve really been trying to focus on training for that event,” she said.
“Everything’s going really well, so that’s exciting for Pan Pacs.
“Dean (coach Dean Boxall) and I have a few long-term goals that are going to stay the same, but short-term there are a few things I need to change to fix up a few things in my races and hopefully I can improve on them over the next year which would set me up well for Tokyo (2020).”
There’s no doubt Titmus’s Olympic campaign will include the 200m.
But that means she will definitely not compete in the newest event on the program, the women’s 1500m.
“I think you’ll lose a bit of speed (if you do both the 200m and 1500m) and I really don’t want that to happen because I’m becoming quite competitive in the 200m,” she said.
“With Katie so dominant in the 1500m, I’m going to leave that one to her and try and target the 200m, 400m and 800m.
“I really feel like I‘m more suited to the two, four and the eight and I feel like the 15 is going to be a bit too long for me.
“To train for the 200m, you just can’t do the 1500m as well.”
While she has qualified to swim the 1500m at the Pan Pacs, Titmus will not swim the event and neither will Jess Ashwood, after the 25-year-old pulled out of Australia’s team for the event citing form and technical issues.
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