Rocky City Swimming's Alanna Bowles in action at the 2013 World Junior Swimming Championships.
Rocky City Swimming's Alanna Bowles in action at the 2013 World Junior Swimming Championships. Swimming Australia Ltd

Alanna set to take on world's elite swimmers

THERE'S only eight months between teenagers Alanna Bowles' and World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky's birthdays.

While that will never change, Rocky City Swimming star Bowles hopes to narrow the 14.7 seconds which separates the pair in the pool.

Bowles, 16, will line up alongside reigning current 800m women's freestyle world record holder Ledecky at the Pan Pacific Championships at the Gold Coast tonight.

A month on from her thrilling Commonwealth Games fourth placing in the 800m women's freestyle, Bowles will measure herself against the world's best in the 800m freestyle final.

In a star-studded field, World No.7 Bowles is joined by six of the seven fastest 800m swimmers in the world.

Only Welsh star and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jaz Carlin is missing.

Just over two years ago Bowles was transfixed to her television screen as an unknown 15-year-old stormed to an Olympic gold medal.

US swim star Ledecky rose to prominence on the back of her gold medal swim in the 800m freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, her first major competition.

"Ever since she won at the London Olympics in 2012, I've noticed her. I remember it so well because she's about my age, she's born in the same year as me," Bowles said.

"She appeared out of nowhere and went from a nobody to a somebody in no time."

Aged 15 at the time, Ledecky narrowly missed the world record. But it didn't elude her for long.

Ledecky clocked 8.13.86 at the 2013 World Championships, before lowering the mark to 8:11 at a US-based meet last month.

Now 17, Ledecky is poised to win as many as five gold medals at the meet and is the current world record holder in the 1500m, 800m and 400m freestyle events.

Tonight, Bowles will push aside a chest infection and put her focus toward edging closer to Ledecky's world record mark.

She hasn't sent any lofty goals, instead Bowles is just keen on mixing it with the best.

The Emmaus College student will compete in the 400m freestyle on Saturday morning and the 50m freestyle on Sunday at the championships.