Who is Ariarne Titmus? Australian swimmer beats world-record holder Katie Ledecky at Olympics

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus beat world record-holder Katie Ledecky to win gold in the women's 400m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics

                            Who is Ariarne Titmus? Australian swimmer beats world-record holder Katie Ledecky at Olympics
Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia poses with the gold medal for the Women's 400m Freestyle Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 26, 2021 (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Ariarne Titmus, an Australian swimmer, has won gold in the women's 400m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics. On Monday, July 25, the 20-year-old won a thrilling final, coming from behind to beat five-time Olympic winner Katie Ledecky of the United States.

Ledecky, who is considered the greatest female swimmer of all time, faced her first defeat in an Olympic final. Titmus brings home Australia's second gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, after the women's 4x100m freestyle relay triumph. She posted a time of 3:56.69 in the 400m freestyle final, beating the world record-holder by less than a stroke.


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As Games-related Covid-19 cases continue to rise, leading to several athletes pulling out of the event, and with Tokyo facing a triple health threat, the Summer Games were very close to being canceled last minute. But Titmus' pathbreaking win breathed life into the world's biggest sports event on Monday. Here's what we know about who she is.


Who is Ariarne Titmus?

Ariarne Titmus, who is 20 years old, is competing in her first Olympic Games this year in Tokyo. She is a member of the Cali Condors, a team in the International Swimming League. Titmus and her family relocated from Tasmania to Queensland in 2015 in search of better training possibilities. At the 2017 World Aquatics Championships, she competed in the women's 200-meter freestyle event.

At the 2017 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Titmus competed in her first world championship event as part of Australia's bronze-winning 4x200 freestyle relay team. She earned international gold in the 400 and 800 freestyles, as well as the 4x200 freestyle relay at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. In the 200 freestyle, she took silver.


The Tasmanian, dubbed 'The Terminator', has since then competed well at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships, especially in one of her races versus Ledecky. Ledecky established herself as the favorite in the 400 freestyle at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships by winning her heat in 4:01.84. Titmus, on the other hand, was only a fraction of a second behind her at 4:02.42. However, things changed in the final when Titmus won gold by more than a second. She earned gold with a time of 3:58.76 while Ledecky earned silver with a time of 3:59.97. 


At the Olympics this year, Titmus' win led to a pleasantly exhilarating reaction from her coach Dean Boxall. Full of passion, no one seemed happier about Titmus' win than her coach, whose powered-up reaction was termed as "iconic" by fans. Boxall is recognized for being a tough coach who knows how to get the most out of his swimmers. In 2019, he was crowned Australia's coach of the year.

“I can’t believe it. I’m trying to contain my emotions — I’ve got the 200 tonight!” Titmus told Channel 7. “But oh my gosh I can’t believe it. This past year, I don’t know whether it’s gone fast or slow. More than anything to get here was a relief, but to come here and do the job — I’m over the moon.” The race has been dubbed “the best in Tokyo”, according to Fox Sports.

The Olympic debutante shared a warm embrace with Ledecky after the match. “I thanked her. I wouldn’t be here without her. She set this incredible standard,” Titmus said. “All credit to her for the incredible swimmer she is. It’s kind of exciting we have this battle going, it’s fun to race. That’s the best part of it. I tried to stay as composed as I could, tried to stick to my race plan. I can’t believe I pulled it off.”

Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe spoke on the Channel 7 commentary, saying, “Just phenomenal. She planned that race so perfectly. Right around the country, Australians are celebrating. We’ve witnessed one of the great swims by an Australian. And she beat one of the greatest ever. Maybe the best female swimmer of all-time."