MELBOURNE: Ariarne Titmus wrested the women’s 200 metres freestyle world record from club-mate Mollie O’Callaghan at Australia’s Olympic trials on Wednesday as the Dean Boxall-coached pair fought a thrilling duel that could shape the Paris Games podium.

Two nights after threatening her own 400m freestyle world record, Olympic champion Titmus posted an incredible time of one minute 52.23 seconds in the final, slicing more than a half-second off O’Callaghan’s mark (1:52.85) from last year’s World Championships in Fukuoka.

Runner-up O’Callaghan also smashed her Fukuoka best at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre, clocking 1:52.48 in a swim that would have likely crushed any other competitor.

But Titmus is no ordinary foe.

Beaten by O’Callaghan for the world title in Fukuoka, the 23-year-old nicknamed “Terminator” turned the tables on her St Peters Western team-mate in style.

The rivalry between Tasmanian Titmus, who also holds the 400m Olympic title, and her young challenger O’Callaghan has burned brightly in recent years and may be set to explode in Paris.

Their competition bodes well for Australia’s chances in the 200m freestyle relay at Paris. The nation took bronze at Tokyo three years ago and won the world title last year.

Lani Pallister finished third in Wednesday’s final ahead of Brianna Throssell, Shayna Jack and Jamie Perkins.

The top six swimmers have priority selection for the relay and to make the Australian team all but means an Olympic medal.

Another eyeing a Paris podium is Cameron McEvoy, the evergreen 30-year-old set to become the first Australian man to swim at four Olympics after booking his Paris ticket with victory in the 50 metres freestyle.

McEvoy became the oldest Australian to win a world title last year with his 50m triumph in Fukuoka and will now bid to become the nation’s first man to claim Olympic gold in the event.

Runner-up behind McEvoy, Ben Armbruster booked his first Games, sneaking under Australia’s Olympic qualifying standard with a time of 21.84 seconds.

Elijah Winnington, who qualified first for the 400m freestyle on Monday, also secured a place in the 800m at Paris with a time of 7:44.90.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2024

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