It’s Here! The Aquatics Schedule For The 2020 Olympic Games In Tokyo

The pieces of the aquatic puzzle for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are falling into place. FINA announced the initial Olympic qualifying times back in May of this year, and now Tokyo organizers have revealed the competitive schedule for swimming.

We’ve been waiting in anticipation for the aquatics schedule since July, when most of the entire Games’ timeline was released with the exception of swimming, artistic swimming and diving. However, we now know that swimming events will be held for 9 days, beginning with Day 1 of the Games.

Furthermore, all heats will be held in the evening, with finals taking place the following morning. This was to be expected, as FINA announced back in July that the world’s governing body of swimming announced its support of morning finals, siding with American TV networks over Japanese broadcasters. Finals taking place in the morning is the same schedule followed for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. With this timeline, the first medal event will be the men’s 400m IM taking place on Day 2 (July 26th).

With the addition of the men’s 800m free, the women’s 1500m free and the mixed medley relay, the total number of swimming events in 2020 will be 35. However, the total number of days’ worth of competition in Tokyo will not change from Rio. In terms of the newly added Olympic events:

  • The women’s 1500m was added to the morning session of Day 3, with its final taking place in the finals of Day 4.
  • The men’s 800m was added to the morning session of Day 4, with its final taking place in the finals of Day 5.
  • The mixed medley relay’s prelims will be on Day 6, while its final will be on Day 7.

An additional change between Rio and Tokyo is the placement of the men’s 50m free event. In Rio, the men’s 50 took place on Day 6. For Tokyo, though, the men’s 50 free is moved to Day 7 and follows the same prelims-semi’s-finals path as the women’s 50m free.

Below is the schedule of the pool and marathon swimming, as just released by Tokyo 2020 organizers. Please note the small type is what was released by organizers; we’ll update with more pronounced text once published on the Tokyo 2020 site. The events are also listed out in text format beneath the graphics.

Below is the schedule of water polo, artistic swimming and diving.

25 July.2020
19:00-21:30 Heats

  • Men 400m Individual Medley
  • Women 100m Butterfly
  • Men 400m Freestyle
  • Women 400m Individual Medley
  • Men 100m Breaststroke
  • Women 4x100m Freestyle

26 July.2020
10:30-12:30 Semi-Finals & Finals

  • Men 400m Individual Medley Final
  • Women 100m Butterfly Semi-Final
  • Men 400m Freestyle Final
  • Women 400m Individual Medley Final
  • Men 400m Breaststroke Semi-Final
  • Women 4x100m Freestyle Final

19:00-21:30 Heats

  • Women 100m Backstroke
  • Men 200m Freestyle
  • Women 100m Breaststroke
  • Men 100m Backstroke
  • Women 400m Freestyle
  • Men 4x100m Freestyle

27 July.2020
10:30-12:30 Semi-Finals & Finals

  • Women 100m Butterfly Final
  • Men 200m Freestyle Semi-Final
  • Women 100m Breaststroke Semi-Final
  • Men 100m Breaststroke Final
  • Women 400m Freestyle Final
  • Men 100m Backstroke Semi-Final
  • Women 100m Backstroke Semi-Final
  • Men 4x100m Freestyle Final

19:00-21:30 Heats

  • Women 200m Freestyle
  • Men 200m Butterfly
  • Women 200m Individual Medley
  • Women 1500m Freestyle

28 July.2020
10:30-12:30 Semi-Finals & Finals

  • Women 200m Freestyle Semi-Final
  • Men 200m Freestyle Final
  • Women 100m Backstroke Final
  • Men 100m Backstroke Final
  • Women 100m Breaststroke Final
  • Men 200m Butterfly Semi-Final
  • Women 200m Individual Medley Semi-Final

19:00-21:30 Heats

  • Men 100m Freestyle
  • Women 200m Butterfly
  • Men 200m Breaststroke
  • Men 4x200m Freestyle
  • Men 800m Freestyle

29 July.2020
10:30-12:30 Semi-Finals & Finals

  • Men 100m Freestyle Semi-Final
  • Women 200m Freestyle Final
  • Men 200m Butterfly Final
  • Women 200m Butterfly Semi-Final
  • Men 200m Breaststroke Semi-Final
  • Women 200m Individual Medley Final
  • Women 1500m Freestyle Final
  • Men 4x200m Freestyle Final

19:00-21:30 Heats

  • Women 100m Freestyle
  • Men 200m Backstroke
  • Women 200m Breaststroke
  • Men 200m Individual Medley
  • Women 4x200m Freestyle

30 July.2020
10:30-12:30 Semi-Finals & Finals

  • Men 800m Freestyle Final
  • Men 200m Breaststroke Final
  • Women 100m Freestyle Semi-Final
  • Men 200m Backstroke Semi-Final
  • Women 200m Butterfly Final
  • Men 100m Freestyle Final
  • Women 200m Breaststroke Semi-Final
  • Men 200m Individual Medley Semi-Final
  • Women 4x200m Freestyle Final

19:00-21:30 Heats

  • Women 800m Freestyle
  • Men 100m Butterfly
  • Women 200m Backstroke
  • 4x100m Medley Mix

31 July.2020
10:30-12:30 Semi-Finals & Finals

  • Women 200m Breaststroke Final
  • Men 200m Backstroke Final
  • Women 200m Backstroke Semi-Final
  • Men 200m Individual Medley Final
  • Women 100m Freestyle Final
  • Men 100m Butterfly Semi-Final

19:00-21:30 Heats

  • Men 50m Freestyle
  • Women 50m Freestyle
  • Men 1500m Freestyle
  • Women 4x100m Medley
  • Men 4x100m Medley

1 August.2020
10:30-12:30 Semi-Finals & Finals

  • Men 100m Butterfly Final
  • Women 200m Backstroke Final
  • Women 800m Freestyle Final
  • Men 50m Freestyle Semi-Final
  • Women 50m Freestyle Semi-Final
  • 4x100m Medley Mix Final

2 August.2020
10:30-12:30 Finals

  • Men 50m Freestyle Final
  • Women 50m Freestyle Final
  • Men 1500m Freestyle Final
  • Women 4x100m Medley Final
  • Men 4x100m Medley Final


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Old Man Chalmers

Disappointed they didn’t use the extra day to spread the 200s out… 200 fly + 4×200 free, 200 back + 200 IM are brutal doubles.


Wonder if Dressel will try to do the 4x 200 or the 200 IM

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo

Although my name suggests otherwise, I hope not. He doesn’t need all the gold medals to become one of the GOATs. 50 free, 100 fly, 100 free, and 4×100 free, 4×100 mixed, and 4×100 medley would be good choices. He’s a great 200 imer, but unless it’s in a yards or short course meters pool, he’s not a medal contender. The best 200 imers train for the 400 im.


Bout time people start talking sense about Dressel he’ll win many medals but he’s no Phelps or Lochte in terms of versatility

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo

Don’t know why this has so many dislikes. In long course, Dressel specializes in 50 and 100 flys and frees. Sprinters don’t have the endurance of a 400 imer like Phelps or Lochte. Yea sure, Dressel does 400 im sets and somehow goes 17.6 in the 50 free, but we won’t really know until he swims a 200 im or 200 free fully tapered. He did great this season, but not at the Championship meets, probably due to his accident. At worlds next year, he won’t swim those events, so it would be risky to try it out at 2020 Olympic Trials. I really think he should just focus on the shorter events, and destroy some world records.


Not as versatile? That’s a tough call to make considering he is/was the American Record holder in a fly, free, breast and IM event in SCY. While I agree he is no Phelps or Lochte YET, his versatility shouldn’t be questioned. If we see his SCY talents transferred to LCM, he may reach Lochte-type levels. (I’m aware this is a big if)

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo

We are talking about Long Course. Short course and Long course are completely different when it comes to 200s.


It’s even worse on the women’s side too. Day 3 and 4 features the 200m freestyle and the 200m im. Day 4 also features the heats and semis for the 200m butterfly, and day five has that final plus the 4x200m freestyle. That’s four of the six 200m events compacted into three days.


So there is a great chance for Katinka Hosssu to shine proving her “iron” abilities.


She’s already proven it in Rio, hasn’t she?


Quite an opposite. After unbelievable 4:26 in 400IM on day1 she dropped 200fly then barely won her strongestt event 200IM, and lost to DiRado in 200 BK. There was strong decline in performance as the meet went on.
In contrast Katie Ledecky or Maya DiRado being in great form showed It during entire this loaded meet.
4:26 should indicate the greatest of her form ever. It is either something was fishy about this race or she had no “ironness” and her performance declined noticeably with each next race.


Or that she was already 27…beyond peak for almost every female swimmer and beyond ideal for any woman attempting that type of program


Of course that was the reason. And admitting this natural fact and looking at what she has been achieving under this angle rather than continuing selling us this supernatural “iron” stuff will serve much better to the legacy of this talented swimmer.


Might have had the peak of her taper at the very beginning of her meet, Think about what Lochte did in 2012, Best race was the 400 IM the first day.


I’m not sure what to think about the American networks dictating schedule. Many swimmers have better performances at evening finals, so I’m not sure morning finals are as good, but it is also nice to watch live. I think I’m ok with it as long as there is sufficient notice like this.

WV Swimmer

Did same in Beijing, a bit of a pain to train for in my opinion but I’m sure this will work out all the same

Old Man Chalmers

Shouldn’t be a problem, national teams hold staging camps about 3 weeks before major competition, which gives the swimmers adequate time to acclimatise.

Timezone’s only an issue if national teams do what usa did at pan pacs this year.

Steve Nolan

Seems like it’d be weird for the athletes swimming multiple events. Go out and win a gold medal in the morning, then come back later that day to swim in heats. (Not that events don’t happen later in the same session, but idk still feels weird.)

I mean it was done in Beijing so it’s not unprecedented, but still seems less than ideal.


The same thing was said in 2008 with Beijing when they had a schedule similar to this. And world records were broken left and right. It’s probably an annoyance for the swimmers, but they will adjust and I don’t foresee their times getting much worse as a result.


Unfortunately, they won’t have the assistance of super suits which were used in Beijing.


Yeah, that was mostly because of the super suits.


The same thing was said in 2008 when the schedule was flipped for Beijing. There were concerns the swimmers wouldn’t be as fast, but then world and Olympic records were broken left and right. FINA needs to follow the money, but it also means drawing in a big American audience. Yes, that sucks for East Asian nations as well as Australia. But this was on the horizon for a few weeks now, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise now that this is confirmed.


In 2008 Olympics, records were broken left and right because of the appearance of super suits. If they’re swimming in textile suits, i don’t think many records would be broken.


Very fair point. Still, the fears that their times would be hurt because of the schedule change didn’t seem to materialize then. I expect it will be the same this time around


Not a surprise that money talks. But when Rio finals were moved for USA TV , they weren’t even shown live in some parts of the USA! So frustrating . So much for the poor Japanese who wanted night finals and those of us in a similar Timezone as Japan who for years got up in the middle of the night to watch finals. And did anyone actually ask the swimmers ??


At the end of the day, the swimmers will want what’s best for the sport. FINA isn’t doing this just because NBC put a lot of money on the table. It’s because they know they’ll get more people watching if they do this than if they keep to a more traditional schedule. Is it likely they’ll lose some viewers from other parts of the world, especially East Asia and Australia? Of course. But they’re doing what they believe is best for business.


It sucks most for European fans as they need to get up at midnight to watch the final. East Asian audience have the finals in the morning.


True but we’ll be at work.

Miss M

It sucks big time that the finals are in the morning.

US media rights trump what is best for the sport, again.

Years of Plain Suck

What I like about the schedule:

1) longer rest interval between heats and finals of the 800 and 1500 (36 hours including two nights of sleep). That means the athletes can go faster in prelims and have more time to recover.

2) the finals of the men’s 100 fly and 50 free are different (consecutive) days. Should be a benefit for Dressel (and perhaps M Andrew).

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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