Swimming-Titmus expecting fast times at Paris Olympics

FILE PHOTO: Commonwealth Games - Swimming - Women's 400m Freestyle - Final - Sandwell Aquatics Centre, Birmingham, Britain - August 3, 2022 Australia's Ariarne Titmus reacts after winning gold and setting a new games record REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus is gearing herself up for very quick races at next year's Paris Games and thinks everyone on the podium for the 400 metres freestyle will swim well under four minutes.

The 22-year-old Australian edged Katie Ledecky by less than a second to win one of her two golds in the 400 at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and took the American's world record in May last year in a time of three minutes 56.40 seconds.

Although Italy's Federica Pellegrini broke the four-minute barrier for the first time to win the 2009 world title, there has never been a final at a major global long course championships where the top three have gone under the mark.

Titmus thinks that will change when she renews her rivalry with Ledecky and the other leading freestylers in one of the highlights of the swimming competition at La Defense Arena in July next year.

"There's some very fast swimming at the moment," Titmus told reporters ahead of the New South Wales Open on Friday.

"It just goes to show that the world of swimming is moving in the right direction. My races next year are going to be headline events. They're going to be packed full, especially that 400 freestyle.

"I believe that all three women on that podium are going to be well and truly under four minutes."

Titmus, who is also the 200 freestyle Olympic champion, skipped last year's world championships to prepare for the Commonwealth Games, where she defended her 400 title and won three other gold medals.

She is planning to be at the next edition in Fukuoka, Japan, in July but her presence at the Sydney Olympic Park this weekend is also part of her preparations for next year's trip to Paris.

"It's gonna come around very fast," Titmus said. "This gives you a gauge of where you might have to give yourself a bit of a whip on the bum, or if you're in a good spot. That's the main reason why we come here to race."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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