2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
- Open Water swimming: Wednesday, August 4 – Thursday, August 5, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 7 PM / Semifinals & Finals: 10:30 AM (Local time)
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Two swim-offs turned into one during the fifth preliminary session from the 2020 Olympic Games, as the women’s 100 freestyle saw a pair of ties in key positions on Wednesday evening in Tokyo.
France’s Marie Wattel and the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo produced matching times of 53.71 in the sixth heat of the event, ultimately tying them for 16th overall, meaning a swim-off would be required to settle who would advance to the semis.
Directly below them on the results page was American Erika Brown and China’s Wu Qingfeng, who also found themselves dead-locked in 18th at 53.87. That would likely result in a second swim-off for the second alternate position, barring one of the swimmers withdrawing.
However, Kromowidjojo, the 30-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the event, withdrew from her swim-off for 16th, opting to put her eggs in the 50 free basket, where she’s been more successful in recent years.
That moved Wattel straight into the semis, and now Brown and Wu would go head-to-head for the first alternate position.
Wu claimed the early lead, flipping in 25.60 to Brown’s 25.79, but the American used her phenomenal underwater work off the turn to assert herself ahead of the Chinese swimmer.
It was over from there, as Brown out-split Wu by more than a second coming home to touch in a time of 53.51, less than a tenth off her best time of 53.42 and faster than she went in the Olympic Trials final last month (53.59). If Brown had gone that time in the heats, it would’ve placed 12th.
Wu, 18, was just off her PB of 53.84 in the heats.
Barring an injury, illness or a surprise scratch from any of the 16 semi-finalists, this would mark the first time the United States did not have two women advance to the 100 free semis since they were introduced in 2000 (having previously had ‘A’ and ‘B’ finals).