Rio 2016 Olympic Previews: Men’s 4×100 Free Relay

Men’s 4×100 Free Relay

  • 2012 Olympic Champion: France (Levaux, Gilot, Lefert, Agnel), 3:09.93
  • 2015 World Champion: France (Metella, Manaudou, Gilot, Stravius), 3:10.74
  • World Record (2008): USA (Phelps, Weber-Gale, Jones, Lezak), 3:08.24

At the past 2 Olympic games, one of the major headlines has been the rivalry between Team USA and France in the 4×100 free relay. In 2008, Jason Lezak anchored for the U.S. in a 46.0 to run down France in what was arguably one of the most exciting moments in Olympic history. In 2012, France’s Yannick Agnel turned the tables on the Americans, running down Ryan Lochte to seal the gold for his team.

While the rivalry continues this summer, a new team is in the mix. The Australians look like the team to beat, and will battle to claim their first men’s relay gold since the 2000 Games in Sydney. Team USA and Australia are both looking for redemption after neither team advanced to the final in this race at the 2015 World Championships. Despite a lackluster performance in Kazan, we could see both teams on the podium in Rio just one year later.

The top Australian 100 freestylers heading into the Games this summer are Cameron McEvoy and Kyle Chalmers. McEvoy is a dangerous weapon for the Aussies, owning the fastest textile 100 freestyle time in history with his 47.04 from Australian Nationals this year. Chalmers, a 19-year-old who resembles a young McEvoy at this point in his career, swam a lifetime best 48.03 to rank himself 8th in the world this year.

The next fastest Aussie this season is James Roberts, who swam a 48.32 to earn his place on the relay and narrowly miss an individual berth. Roberts was added to the Australian Olympic Roster, along with Matthew Abood and 2012 Olympic silver medalist James Magnussen, after their 4×100 free relay was officially confirmed for Rio. Abood put up the 4th fastest time at nationals with his 48.89, but Magnussen is the 4th fastest Australian overall this year with his 48.49 from an Australian Grand Prix meet in July. Magnussen had established himself as the fastest man ever in textile with his 47.10 from 2012, and it could go a long way towards helping Australia win the gold if can dip back into the 47-range.

Team USA will bring in Nathan Adrian and Caeleb Dressel for this relay, but the other 2 spots are still to be determined. Adrian swam a season best 47.72 at Trials that ranks him 2nd in the world, and Dressel put up a lifetime best 48.23 to qualify for his first Olympic team. In the past, Adrian has swum sub-47 splits multiple times and has established himself as a very reliable relay anchor. His most recent sub-47 split was a 46.69 at World in 2013. Last summer in Kazan, he anchored Team USA’s mixed 400 free relay in 47.29.

The other 4 men who qualified for the relay at U.S. Olympic trials were Ryan Held (48.26), Anthony Ervin (48.54), Jimmy Feigen (48.57), and Blake Pieroni (48.78). The coaching staff will have to take a look at their prelims splits and evaluate which swimmers are the best options for the finals relay. There’s also the question of whether or not Michael Phelps will swim this relay, which will probably stay up in the air until the day of the race. Phelps scratched the event at trials, so there’s not much we can use to indicate where he’s at in terms of his freestyle right now.

France, the defending Olympic champions in this race, bring 3 men who are ranked in the top 10 this year. Leading the way is Jeremy Stravius, who won French Nationals with a 47.97 for 5th in the world. Sitting in the 6th and 7th spots behind him with a pair of 48.0s are Florent Manaudou (48.00) and Clement Mignon (48.01). The 4th relay spot for France will likely go to Mehdy Metella, who swam a 48.43 at French Nationals. Yannick Agnel, the 2012 relay hero, will return to the Olympics for France, but probably won’t swim this relay.

The Brazilians will be looking to earn a medal on their home turf, and they’ve got Nicolas Oliviera and Auburn-based Marcelo Chierighini to help them do that. Chierighini is their fastest this season, leading the pack with a 48.20 from the Maria Lenk Trophy. Just a tenth behind him at that meet was Oliviera in 48.30. Joining them for the relay will be Joao De Lucca and Matheus Santana, who have season bests of 48.59 and 48.80, respectively. This is Brazil’s last big shot before they refresh a sprint group that’s been so good for so long – there will be a lot of cheering for the home team here, though it will be without Cesar Cielo.

Alexander Sukhorukov, a swimmer based out of Trojan Swim Club, will make the trip to Rio for Russia. Morozov is the fastest Russian of 2016, posting a 48.06 at Russian Trials to finish just ahead of Rio relay teammate Andrey Grechin (48.18). Sukhorukov (48.55) and Alexander Popkov (48.41) took the 3rd and 4th spots at trials, with a pair of 48-mids to qualify for the relay.

USC-based Vlad Morozov will be absent from Rio after being named in the WADA-sanctioned McLaren report. That’s a big blow to the Russian relay, as Morozov is the fastest Russian of 2016 with a 48.06, and blasted a 46.95 split on this relay for the Russians at 2015 Worlds. The Russians should still be good enough to final, but without Morozov, their medal chances have been significantly impacted.

Italy has a big weapon in this race with sub-48 sprinter Luca Dotto. Interestingly, Dotto has been significantly faster on relays than in his individual swims. At Italian Nationals, he set a new Italian Record with a 47.96 relay leadoff, half a second faster than he swam individually. The Italians were 3rd at Worlds last year, and will bring back Filippo Magnini from that relay. Joining them will be Luca Leonardi and NC State alum Jonathan Boffa.

Also heading into Rio with a season-best 47.96 is Ning Zetao, the reigning 100 free World Champion who will swim on the relay for China. The Chinese finished 7th in the World Championship final last summer, and will bring back Zetao and Hexin Yu from that relay. Yu is the 2nd fastest Chinese swimmer this year, with a season-best 48.47 from Chinese Nationals.

Japan, the 6th place team at 2015 Worlds, will enter the mix with Shinri Shioura as their big relay weapon. Shioura has been 48-low this year, swimming a 48.35 that ranks him 18th in the world. Also swimming sub-49 for the Japanese heading into Rio was Katsumi Nakamura, who cracked the top 25 with his 48.53.

Men’s 4×100 Free Relay Top 8 Predictions:

Place Team Predicted Time
1 AUS 3:09.7
2 USA 3:09.9
3 RUS 3:10.3
4 FRA 3:10.6
5 BRA 3:11.6
6 ITA 3:12.5
7 JPN 3:14.5
8 CHN 3:14.8

CHECK OUT ALL OF OUR 2016 RIO OLYMPIC PREVIEWS HERE

In This Story

189
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
189 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lol
5 years ago

France wins again. Usa and Aus for the other two medals.

robbos
5 years ago

Yes, McEvoy, Chalmers, Maggie & Roberts will be hard to beat. Bring it on, one of the races of the meet, Australia, USA & France, all with big chances. The most open of all the relays, should be a great race.
The Aussies to win it with McEvoy closing it with a low 46.

PVK
5 years ago

USA all the way.

SHM
5 years ago

If all 4 Aussies swimmers put in their best performances in they should win Gold but that was predicted 4 years ago and they came 4th …the same could be said for the Americans if they dont put in their best second string team out in the prelims and best team in the final then it might not go to plan for them.
If the French could retain their title it would be very impressive just hoping for some very fast swims would love to see that WR be broken but really cant see anyone dropping a Lezak fire ball

WPCSDA
Reply to  SHM
5 years ago

McEvoy swam a 46.6 anchoring the Aus 4x100m Medley relay at last years world champs when his flat start PB was a 47.7. He now swims a flat 47.0 so don’t be surprised if he drops something similar to Lezak…

SwimmerFoxJet
Reply to  WPCSDA
5 years ago

Perhaps his flat start was a bad swim compared to the relay? The 47.04 doesn’t mean he’ll go JL

Naya Missy
Reply to  SHM
5 years ago

On average the four swimmers need to split 47.06 each to match the WR… pretty insane…

bobo gigi
5 years ago

Lauren, France 4th? Beaten by Russia? I’m going to cry immediately.

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  bobo gigi
5 years ago

I’m here for you Bobo! 🙁

bobo gigi
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
5 years ago

If that horrible thing happened then only a US win with MP in the relay would make me forget it. 🙂

Tom from Chicago
Reply to  bobo gigi
5 years ago

If France doesn’t medal, I would be more likely to blame the French Swimming Federation for messing with their heads, then the swimmers. France has had great performances in the last 2 Olympics. It is a shame some knucklehead administrators had to mess things up.

NotSoFastSwimmer
Reply to  Tom from Chicago
5 years ago

How exactly did French Administrators mess things up?

You can say that about Japanese, British, Australians, and Canadians swimming admins who left behind several of their top swimmers who have qualified, but French?
France bring every one of their swimmers to Rio to swim in every event they qualified for.

Myshkin
Reply to  bobo gigi
5 years ago

lol.. I would cry with you.. but France will smash Team Asterisk

Bo swims
Reply to  bobo gigi
5 years ago

Phelps maybe a prelims swim ? Finals doubt it

Clutch
5 years ago

I expect Germany instead of Japan in the Final.
The added time of Germany is 3:14.1 while the time of Japan is 3:15.2.
So I’m a little but surprised Germany is not even mentioned.

bobthebuilderrocks
5 years ago

I say the U.S wins it, we have so many viable options for the relay that I’m sure we win.

The one I’d go with is-

Dressel- 47.7
Held- 47.3
MP- 47.0
Adrian- 46.7

Chase
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
5 years ago

A 47.3 from held is a pretty bold statement. I’d say a 47.8 from him at the fastest!

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  Chase
5 years ago

I suppose, but I recall him dropping a lot of time from his individual swims in the relays.

Anon
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
5 years ago

Held is an incredible relay swimmer and is improving at a ridiculous rate. You’re justified in your prediction if you ask me. May be a little over exaggerated but I expect a decent drop from him.

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  Anon
5 years ago

Thanks! He went 18.7 individual 50 free and an 18.1 at ACC’s I think, that’s why I thought a 47.3 would be realistic. Maybe 47.5 would be better though

Reaction time
Reply to  Chase
5 years ago

He has the relay takeovers of a young god… dropped some absolutely nasty splits when it counted for NC State this past season.

Caeleb Dressel\'s Occupied Stall
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
5 years ago

I could see something similar. Only thing is that phelps’s freestyle has not looked very good recently. I could see:
Dressel-47.8
Held-47.4
Phelps-47.5
Adrian-46.7
Thats being generous to dressel and held and conservative on phelps and adrian. Adrian dropped a 46.6 when he has only gone 47.8 individual in 2013 and 47.3 when he didnt even break 47 in 2015. Now he is likely to beat his 47.7 from trials at the olympics, and knowing adrian he will drop something disgusting if its a close race at the end. Could honestly see 46.5 from him

Shibly
Reply to  Caeleb Dressel\'s Occupied Stall
5 years ago

i don’t think Held swim faster than Dressel…..

NTIN SWIMMER
Reply to  Shibly
5 years ago

Dressel is from flat start while Held from flying

Jack
Reply to  Caeleb Dressel\'s Occupied Stall
5 years ago

Phelps isn’t a naturally great freestyler. He built himself into one. And the thing about him is that when he’s training heavy his natural weaknesses going into walls, breaststroking, etc show a lot. But when he nails that taper, all the work he’s done over the years turns him into a terminator. He’s suddenly a Thorpe, level freestyler, the best turner in the world, and he drops insane IM breast splits.

All you need to do is look at his in-season fly. If his fly is good one year, that summer he’s going to be the best in the world at any of his events. He had a good butterfly year this year, and I’m telling you that by… Read more »

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
5 years ago

if i would put the times for team Usa in the final , that would be it . Well done BOB

Steven Latham
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
5 years ago

I think that’s a very very optimistic prediction
Dressel 48.1
Held 47.9
MP 47.8
Adrian 46.8

Ervin a possibility at 47.7

Other person
5 years ago

The real question is is if the 4 guys from prelims look rough who’s not to say the coaches begin to seriously consider throwing Conger or Murphy on as the 4th that night

Swimfan
Reply to  Other person
5 years ago

Okay now you are just trying too hard. I would consider Conger but no way on Murphy!

Skoorbnagol
Reply to  Swimfan
5 years ago

Murphy go 47.0 from roller and 47.9
from standing.
When u go out in 25.0 on backstroke your going 22/25 on freestyle.

Caeleb Dressel\'s Occupied Stall
Reply to  Skoorbnagol
5 years ago

Possibly, but also remember that in 2013 when murphy went 53.3 he was only able to go 49.9 in freestyle flat start

Flyin\'
Reply to  Caeleb Dressel\'s Occupied Stall
5 years ago

He did go 42.9 scy in high school to lead off the bolles relay when everyone thought he was only a backstroker. I’m not 100% sure, but I think he broke the national high school record, although I think it’s been broken again since.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Other person
5 years ago

Well, we saw what happened last year with some rough prelims swims. Won’t have to consider anything!

He Gets It Done Again
Reply to  Other person
5 years ago

Um… I’ll do a 1000 fly for time if Ryan Murphy swims in the finals of the 4×100 freestyle relay in Rio.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

Read More »