Ariarne Titmus.
Ariarne Titmus has powered to a world record in the 200m freestyle at the Australian Olympic trials. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS
  • swimming

Titmus tunes up for Paris with freestyle world record

Steve Larkin June 12, 2024

Ariarne Titmus says seizing the 200m freestyle world record from Mollie O’Callaghan is a bonus from their unparalleled duel in the pool.

And O’Callaghan believes losing the benchmark is also a bonus, easing the pressure on her at the looming Paris Olympics.

Titmus added to her legend on Wednesday night by pinching O’Callaghan’s record at Australia’s Olympic swimming trials in Brisbane.

The 23-year-old clocked one minute 52.23 seconds, bettering O’Callaghan’s 1:52.85 at last year’s world championships.

O’Callaghan also eclipsed her previous mark, finishing in 1:52.48 – the second-fastest time in history.

Ariarne Titmus.
 Ariarne Titmus on her way to shattering the 200m freestyle world record. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

Titmus now holds the 200m and 400m freestyle world records and is reigning Olympic champion in both events.

“Honestly, the world record is a bonus,” she said.

“I am happy to finally put together a swim that I know I’m capable of and it’s exciting to do it in my home town.”

Titmus didn’t tap-in to O’Callaghan’s feat at last year’s world titles in Japan for motivation, despite both swimmers being coached by Dean Boxall.

“We really don’t see what each other is doing in training, we are very separate – she trains for the sprint events, I train for middle distance,” Titmus said.

“Looking at a world record, I don’t look at who has it. I look at the time.”

O’Callaghan admitted to severe pre-race anxiety stemming from entering the final as the record holder.

Mollie O'Callaghan.
 Mollie O’Callaghan also broke the previous world mark as she finished second in Brisbane. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

“I couldn’t really sleep last night,” she said.

But the 20-year-old instantly put a positive spin on losing the record.

“It really takes the pressure off me, because coming into this (meet) I was not in a good place,” she said.

Such was the dominance of Titmus and O’Callaghan they finished more than three seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

Shayna Jack tied for fifth, securing a debut Olympic appearance after serving a two-year doping ban from 2019.

The top six in the final – Titmus, O’Callaghan, Lani Pallister, Brianna Throssell, Jack and Jamie Perkins – will comprise Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay squad in Paris.

Cameron McEvoy became the first Australian male swimmer to qualify for four Olympics after winning the 50m freestyle in 21.35 seconds.

Cameron McEvoy.
 A delighted Cameron McEvoy qualified for his fourth Olympic Games by winning the 50m freestyle. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

“It’s special because you could almost fill a book with legendary Aussie male names in the sport,” the 30-year-old said.

“To have the privilege of having that title, having that type of longevity … it shines a lot on the persistence and perseverance that I have had.”

McEvoy took a break from the sport before returning with a revolutionary training approach which includes rock climbing and calisthenics rather than huge amounts of swimming.

“My goal was to just come back, give this new training approach a go and see what happens,” he said.

“What I have done so far has just obliterated any expectations I had.”

Bowen Gough won the men’s 200m butterfly in 1:56.18 from Harrison Turner (1:57.07).

Both were outside the automatic qualifying time for the Games set by Swimming Australia, leaving their Olympic hopes resting on selectors’ discretion.