2016 Rio Olympics: Day 1 Prelims Preview

2016 Rio Olympic Games

The opening day of Olympic swimming is finally upon us, and this morning we’ll see a total of six events: the men’s 400 IM, women’s 100 fly, men’s 400 free, women’s 400 IM, men’s 100 breast, and the women’s 400 free relay.

All four 400m races will advance the top eight swimmers to the final tonight, so swimmers will have to be on their A-game right from the get-go. The 100 fly and 100 breast will advance the top 16 swimmers to the semi-finals tonight.

The opening race is the men’s 400 IM, where we’re used to seeing American dominance from Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte who have won the last three Olympic titles, but that won’t be the case this time around. The Japanese duo of Kosuke Hagino and Daiya Seto look to be the favorites to go 1-2 here, as Hagino is ranked #1 in the world this year and Seto is the two-time defending world champion.

Hagino will swim in heat three of four along with 2015 World silver medallist David Verraszto of Hungary, Australian Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Great Britain’s Max LitchfieldSeto, the top seed, will contest heat four along with Americans Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland and Germany’s Jacob Heidtmann. With so many swimmers seeded around the 4:11-4:12 area, look for the bulk of the field to throw down their best in order to qualify for the final.

The women’s 100 fly will have six heats with the last three being circle seeded. Heat four will feature 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dana Vollmer and China’s Chen Xinyi who are seeded with times of 56.90 and 56.82 respectively. Heat five will have US Olympic Trials winner Kelsi Worrell, Australia’s Emma McKeon and Canada’s Noemie Thomas. Worrell comes in as the 2nd seed after posting a best time of 56.48 at those US Trials. The final heat will feature world record holder Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, who is the undisputed favorite for gold in this event. Joining her will be Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen and Canada’s rising star Penny Oleksiak, both of whom will be in the fight for a medal come the final.

The men’s 400 free is one event that will be extremely competitive this morning and will require almost everyone to throw down close to their best to qualify. Heat six of seven is loaded with talent, including defending Olympic champion Sun Yang, 2008 Olympic champion Park Tae Hwan, US Trials champ Connor Jaeger and Cochrane. The last heat includes top seed Mack Horton, Great Britain’s James Guy and Conor Dwyer of the United States. In 2008 it took a 3:44.8 to make the final, in London it was just 3:47.2, so I think this year we’ll see it somewhere in the middle. You’d have to expect something in the 3:45 range would be the cutoff. There are a total of 24 men seeded under 3:48.

The main storyline of the women’s 400 IM is Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who, after almost retiring after missing the medals in this event four years ago, has become the world’s most dominant and versatile swimmer. Along with Hosszu, eyes will be on 2012 gold medallist Ye Shiwen, who has been nowhere near her 2012 form since her world record performance in London. Heat four will feature the World Championship silver and bronze medallists from last year Maya Dirado (USA) and Emily Overholt (CAN), along with Ye Shiwen out in lane seven. Hosszu swims out of lane four in heat five, along with Spanish rival Mireia Belmonte Garcia and American Elizabeth Beisel, who won silver four years ago.

The men’s 100 breast will contest six heats, and looks to be very close. There are exactly 16 men seeded under 1-minute, so that might just be what it takes to move onto the semi-finals. In London 12 men swam sub 1-minute, though 1:00.57 was 16th. Heat four will have Americans Kevin Cordes and Cody Miller in the middle of the pool, both of whom have a chance at a medal after posting personal best times at the US Olympic Trials. Heat five has defending gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa, along with hometown favorites Felipe Franca and Joao Gomes of Brazil. In the last heat we’ll see world record holder and 2015 World Champion Adam Peaty, along with his British teammate Ross Murdoch.

The last event of the morning will be the women’s 400 free relay, which will have two full heats. Heat one will feature the Netherlands, who used to own this event but have recently been replaced by the Australians. They’ll swim alongside Sweden, who will no doubt swim Sarah Sjostrom this morning to ensure a spot in the final. In heat two we’ll see the favored Australians, the Americans, Canada, and the hometown Brazilians. Both the 2012 Olympics and 2015 Worlds required a time of 3:38 to advance to the final, so look for that number to be similar here, though likely a little bit faster.

Check out the full relay lineups for this morning’s relay here.




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7 years ago

Going hard in prelims dudes. gonna wanna save up for racing hagino dummies

7 years ago
7 years ago

NBC is reporting on air that Ledecky will swim heats of the 400 free relay.

Reply to  gosharks
7 years ago

Must be worried about the bronze

Reply to  gosharks
7 years ago

Won’t have to wait long as the US and Aus clash in the heats of the 4 x 1 Free

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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