Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus has revealed she may be nearing the end of her professional swimming career after she failed to reclaim her 400m freestyle world record from 16-year-old Canadian sensation Summer McIntosh.
Titmus employed a unique tactic during her triumph at the Australian Swimming World Championship Trials on Tuesday night as the former world record holder now prepares for next month’s world championships in Japan.
The reigning Olympic gold medallist swam a sub-four minute time in the 400m freestyle to book her spot at the championships starting on July 14.
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Her time of 3:58.47 was almost four seconds ahead of second-placed Lani Pallister, but the 22-year-old believes there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
“It wasn’t the best-feeling 400 but every swim I have under four minutes is a fast swim and here’s just about getting on the team and I’m glad that I ticked that off and have a couple of weeks to get things going even more now,” she told Nine’s coverage.
“The last two months I feel like I’ve put in a lot of good work, similar to what I did prior to the Olympics so I had confidence coming in here.
“Obviously I would’ve probably preferred to be a bit faster tonight but that means there’s always things to work on so you’ve got to take the positive.”
Titmus also let slip a potential plan to retire following the Paris Olympics next year.
“[My coach] Dean (Boxall) and I had the conversation. I don’t know what I’m going to do after Paris,” she told reporters.
“I plan to continue but you never know. This could be my fourth-last 400, including Paris and trials and worlds and this. If I decide to end, it could be my fourth last rested 400. You’ve got to use these opportunities to swim as fast as you can.”
The 22-year-old then reasserted that she intended to swim beyond Paris but admitted that it was hard to find the motivation to continue when standing at the top of the sport.
”I kind of regret saying that now because now you all think I’m going to quit but I’m not,” she said.
“I think if I went to Paris and won again, certainly as a motivational factor, it becomes harder to keep training at the same level when you’ve essentially achieved everything you wanted to achieve.
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“At the moment I feel like I try to forget what I’ve achieved in my swimming career. I’m just trying to be that young kid that I was when I first started swimming to draw motivation from.”
Titmus noticeably swam with Blu Tack in her ears as a makeshift ear plug and, when asked about it, said it was the preferred option.
“Zac Stubblety-Cook does it as well so it might be a bit of a world record thing, I dunno,” she laughed.
“I feel like I’ve had earplugs made and they don’t work so change up the Blu Tack every few days and job done.”
With the Paris Olympics just over 12 months away, Titmus will have a busy year ahead as she prepares to defend her gold medals in the 200m and 400m events.
The former world record holder is using some sage advice to keep her motivated.
“I think you almost have to reset your mindset and find new things to give you a feeling of accomplishment,” she said.
“I actually read something the other day … you have to make yourself that child-like swimmer again, that original feeling when you won your first state title, your first national age and trying to get back to the roots and remember why you swim.
“I think that’s good to keep me going but of course always getting that feeling of winning on the international stage keeps you motivated as well.”
Titmus will head to Japan hoping to earn back her 400m freestyle world record which was taken away from her by McIntosh in March.
The Australian will come up against McIntosh at the championships along with American Katie Ledecky.
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