Emma McKeon Hits 52.13 Olympic 100 Freestyle Record To Lead Tokyo Prelims


Emma McKeon led the action-packed 100 freestyle prelims on day 5 of the Tokyo 2020 Games, setting a new Olympic record of 52.13 to earn top seed. That’s a 0.49-second improvement upon Sarah Sjostrom‘s former Olympic record which she set during the lead off of the 4×100 freestyle relay earlier at the Tokyo Games.

Before Tokyo 2020, 2016 co-champions Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel shared the record at a 52.70 which they swam to claim gold in Rio.

Split Comparison

McKeon 2020 Sjostrom 2020 Oleksiak 2016 Manuel 2016
50 24.98 25.61 25.70 25.24
100 52.13 (27.15) 52.62 (27.01) 52.70 (27.00) 52.72 (27.46)

McKeon’s record features the only sub-25 opening split of any of the 4 most recent Olympic records but she actually has the 3rd slowest closing split at a 27.15. Oleksiak, who is known for her stellar comeback speed closed out the race in a 27.00 in Rio while Sjostrom’s 2021 mark came thanks to a 27.01 back half.

Emma McKeon‘s new Olympic record also marks a new lifetime best for her, marking the second one she’s swum this year. McKeon delivered a 52.19 at the 2021 Olympic Trials which was an improvement upon her 52.46 best time from December 2020.

With the swim, McKeon retains her position as the 5th fastest woman in the history of the 100 freestyle.

All-time Performers In The Women’s Freestyle

  1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 51.71 (2017)
  2. Cate Campbell (AUS) – 52.03 (2018)
  3. Simone Manuel (USA) – 52.04 (2019)
  4. Britta Steffen (GER) – 52.07 (2009)
  5. Emma McKeon (AUS) – 52.13 (2021)
  6. Bronte Campbell (AUS) – 52.27 (2018)
  7. Mallory Comerford (USA) – 52.59 (2017)
  8. Libby Lenton (AUS) – 52.62 (2009)

McKeon’s 52.13 gets her within 0.10 seconds of Cate Campbell‘s Australian, Oceanian, and Commonwealth records in the event of 52.03 which she set at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. Campbell was also racing during Tokyo 2020 prelims, hitting a 52.80 for 4th seed.

Should McKeon make it onto the podium in the women’s 100 freestyle, it will mark at least her 3rd medal of the meet adding to her 4×100 freestyle gold and 100 butterfly bronze from earlier in the meet, and potentially her 4×200 freestyle medal that she has a shot at picking up during day 5 finals.

Women’s 100 freestyle prelims recap, reported by James Sutherland

Top 16

  1. Emma McKeon (AUS), 52.13
  2. Siobhan Haughey (HKG), 52.70
  3. Anna Hopkin (GBR), 52.75
  4. Cate Campbell (AUS), 52.80
  5. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 52.91
  6. Penny Oleksiak (CAN0, 52.95
  7. Pernille Blume (DEN), 52.96
  8. Yang Junxuan (CHN), 53.02
  9. Femke Heemskerk (NED), 53.10
  10. Kayla Sanchez (CAN), 53.12
  11. Abbey Weitzeil (USA), 53.21
  12. Michelle Coleman (SWE), 53.53
  13. Signe Bro (DEN), 53.54
  14. Freya Anderson (GBR), 53.61
  15. Charlotte Bonnet (FRA), 53.67
  16. Marie Wattel (FRA) / Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED), 53.71*

It was an eventful preliminary in the women’s 100 freestyle, and more specifically, an action-packed sixth heat.

Emma McKeon torched the opening 50 in that penultimate heat, flipping in 24.98 before closing in a very strong 27.15 to put up a time of 52.13, smashing the Olympic Record of 52.62 set by Sarah Sjostrom leading off Sweden’s 400 free relay earlier in the meet.

The swim is also a new best time for McKeon, as the Aussie had gone 52.19 earlier this year, and registers as the eighth-fastest swim of all-time. (The 52.19 was also done in a prelim.)

Following McKeon in that heat was Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey, who broke the Asian Record in 52.70, and Anna Hopkin, who took down the British Record in 52.75. Those previous records stood at 52.79 and 52.87, respectively, while Haughey’s previous best was 52.92 and Hopkin’s was 53.21.

Top seed Cate Campbell was the best of the rest, winning Heat 7 in 52.80 over Penny Oleksiak (52.95), while the world record-holder Sjostrom (52.91) led Denmark’s Pernille Blume (52.96) in the first circle-seeded heat.

There was a tie for 16th between the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo and France’s Marie Wattel in 53.71, meaning we’ll need a swim-off to settle who will advance to the semis.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

“she actually has the 3rd slowest closing split at a 27.15″…. um it’s slow cos she totally switched off in the last 15m. Was barely puffing at the end. She’ll go 51 in the final!

1 month ago

Living for this stacked field🔥 can we see a final of all sub-53?

1 month ago

Australian women have really shown up this Olympics. Would love to see Cate Campbell complete the redemption arc and take gold after her disappointment in Rio, but Emma McKeon seems locked in.

Reply to  96Swim
1 month ago

If either of them win gold that would be jncredible. If they could go 1-2 that would be an absolute dream.

Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

SwimSwam, where is an article about women’s 200 free. You know that TITMUS became first double gold medalist of the Olympics and where she swam third fastest time ever to break Olympics record?