'Exhausted' Titmus pays tribute to Phelps

1 month ago 12
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Ariarne Titmus has gained another level of respect for the legendary Michael Phelps as a brutal swimming schedule takes its toll.

Australia's new swimming sensation, Titmus finished second in her 800m freestyle heat tonight with a time of 8:18.99 to qualify for Saturday's final against Katie Ledecky.

The Tokyo double gold medallist also claimed bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay today and admitted a heavy schedule was starting to take a toll.

"I knew I wanted to be under the 8:20 mark to be safe," Titmus said.

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Ariarne Titmus of Australia competes in heat three of the 800m freestyle. (Getty)

"It's a big day today. I only had one and a half hours in my hotel room. I'm absolutely buggered. I will swim down quickly and get home.

"This is probably my toughest back-up and... a really deep field. I knew I had to be tough and swim a solid swim to get through...

"Honestly, I'm exhausted. I keep thinking back to Beijing, it was the same as this morning's heats. (Michael) Phelps won eight gold. I have done two and I'm wrecked. It puts into perspective for me how amazing he was. I'm going to rest up as much as I can and get ready for my last race at the Olympics."

Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus. (Getty)

The Tasmanian agreed it was a relief to not have to swim in great rival Katie Ledecky's heat tonight - but had been thriving on the intense competition.

"Definitely. I love racing Katie but it is nice to be on my own a little bit. It's been really good this week. We've been getting along really well. We've really enjoyed racing each other. I mean, we don't get to do it often. It's so fun for us to be able to race. So, I am looking forward to two days' time."

Ledecky won her heat in 8:15.67s while Aussie Kiah Melverton also qualified for the final on Saturday morning (AEST).

Katie Ledecky of the United States. (Getty)

Meanwhile, Kaylee McKeown set the fastest time in qualifying for the semi-finals of the 200m backstroke.

McKeown sizzled for a 2.08:18 in the final heat while Emily Seebohm also went through equal-eighth fastest.

And Australia qualified fourth fastest for the final of the historic 4x100m medley relay in Tokyo.

The team of Zac Stubblety-Cook, Bronte Campbell, Isaac Cooper and Brianna Throssell finished second in their heat behind China with a time of 3:42.35.

Great Britain, the USA and China were the fastest qualifiers.

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