Tokyo 2020 Olympics swimming preview: Katie Ledecky-Ariarne Timus duel could shake up the pool

Olympic Games - Titmus & Ledecky

The Tokyo pool is set for an intriguing match between Katie Ledecky (right) and Ariarne Titmus for the title of best female swimmer.
Image credit: Agencies

Tokyo: American Katie Ledecky may become the most successful Olympian of all time with another golden booty in Tokyo, but Australian Ariarne Titmus could be the dream shooter.

The pool duel between Ledecky, a Stanford University graduate, the dominator of women’s distance swimming, and Tasmanian “Terminator” Titmus, 20, promises to be a week one highlight.

Ledecky has four gold and one silver at the Rio 2016 Games, in addition to gold in the 800m freestyle she won at age 15 in London 2012.

Three more gold medals would lift the 24-year-old alongside fellow retired Jenny Thompson to the most successful Olympic swimmer with eight.

Five more gold medals, which is not ruled out with Ledecky’s qualification in four individual events – the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle – and the leading relays, would be a record for any athlete. feminine.

Ledecky holds the world records in the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle, the latter being a new addition to the women’s program, and another gold in the 800m would be her third in a row over the distance.

Only three swimmers, including the great American retiree Michael Phelps, achieved such a hat-trick.

Titmus, however, may see a different story.

She caused a sensation at the 2019 world championships when she beat a sick Ledecky in the 400m gold, and the Tasmanian destroyed opposition in Australia’s 200, 400 and 800 freestyle qualifiers in Adelaide in June. .

“She’s not going to do everything her way I guess,” Titmus said after setting the second fastest time of all time in the 400m and promising to leave it all in the Tokyo pool.

“I can’t control what she does, I can only control myself and if I do my best and put myself in that position to win a gold medal, it will be a race.”

Australia’s excitement was fueled by newcomer Kaylee McKeown who broke American Regan Smith’s 100m backstroke world record on day two of national trials.

“I think the Olympics won’t be all American-style,” Titmus said.

The United States topped the swim table in Rio with 33 medals, including 16 gold. Australia was second, with 10 and three gold medals.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, Olympic 100m butterfly champion, arrived in Tokyo after breaking her elbow in February.

Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who won three gold medals in Rio, is aiming to defend her 400m IM title and Canadian Penny Oleksiak her 100m freestyle title.

On the men’s side, Caeleb Dressel is aiming for gold at the first Summer Games in a quarter of a century without his compatriot Phelps.

Phelps, winner of a record 28 career Olympic medals, including 23 gold, is in Tokyo as a TV-only expert.

Dressel won two relay gold medals in Rio, but his eight medals at the 2019 world championships have soared hopes and he remains the favorite in the 50 and 100 freestyle as well as the 100 butterfly.

At Games where the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the training of many, there is a question mark over how many records could be broken.

Expect reigning British champion and world record holder Adam Peaty to try to break his record of 56.88 in the 100 breaststroke.

“We did the math and I think if it went absolutely perfectly, and I’m talking about the fastest parts I’ve done in a physical race and you put them all together, it’s 56.2 or 56.3 which is absolutely ridiculous, ”he said. mentionned.

“I’m not saying I’m going to go … but I believe I can go faster than the world record.”

Hungarian Kristof Milak is another to watch after taking possession of Phelps’ 200m butterfly world record in 10 years.

What’s new in the swimming competition?

* In total, 111 medals will be awarded in 37 events with new distances, a new relay.

* The time-tested swimming program at the Olympics called for qualifying heats in the morning, followed by finals in the evening. Tokyo, however, will feature a reverse schedule with finals in the morning – allowing prime-time airing in the United States.

* A 1500m freestyle women to maintain parity with the men; 800m freestyle for women and a new 4×100 mixed medley. The relay will have teams with two men and two women, and each swimmer will run a single stroke – backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly or freestyle. The relay made its debut at the 2015 world championships and has proven to be a fan favorite.

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