After opting to sit out the recent FINA World Championships, the swimming world will focus once again on Ariarne Titmus when she makes her return to major competition at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Following her double Gold triumph at last year’s Olympics and a world record 400m Freestyle swim in May, the 21-year-old’s choice not to compete in Budapest was one that raised eyebrows. However, in a uniquely congested competition calendar, it was the Games in England that Ariarne pinpointed as her priority for the summer.
One thing that is clear is that the Tasmanian star was unlikely to be fazed by the scrutiny of her decision.
Asked about the most important lesson she has learned as a professional athlete, Ariarne told us: “A lot of people want to contribute their two cents worth and give their opinions and advice. I only listen to the people that I trust, and truly have my best interest at heart.”
Commonwealth glory is something that Ariarne is no stranger to. As a 17-year-old, she exploded onto the scene with a stunning return of three Golds and a Silver medal on the Gold Coast, and will be hotly tipped to add to her haul in Birmingham.
While it’s a mission that comes with pressure, Ariarne is clear that the weight of expectation is something that drives her on: “I like feeling nervous before a race”, she told us. “It means that I care about the outcome. If I don’t feel nervous enough I make myself more nervous. I love the butterflies in the tummy feeling.”
Ariarne demonstrates a maturity that belies her years, and while the importance of preparation and hard work is something that defines her, she is philosophical about setbacks along the way.
“You can never predict what’s going to happen ever”, she explained, “no matter how well thought out or planned a situation may be.
“I always try to think of the bigger picture and the end goal. Sometimes an off day can also be what you need to remotivate yourself for the work ahead.”
And what of the rewards of the work?
“I love seeing what you are capable of in a race and how hard you can push yourself to achieve your goals”, said Ariarne. “It’s the icing on the cake.”
Here’s hoping that a successful Games in Birmingham adds the cherry on top.