Men’s 400 Medley Relay: U.S. Has A Clear-Cut Decision – Don’t They?

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Unlike the mixed event, the lineup decisions for the men’s and women’s 400 medley relays should be much more straightforward from a coaching staff perspective—take the fastest swimmer at the Games in each of your 100s. Easy.

Zeroing in specifically on the men’s race, most of the anticipated lineup moves look to be cut and dry. For example, we know Great Britain will bring in Adam Peaty on breaststroke, Russia will bolster their roster with Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov, and the Americans will do a full changeover from the heats, surely adding Ryan Murphy and Caeleb Dressel.

But there are still a few key decisions to be made.

Note: The times for the swimmers listed in reserve are their fastest flat-start times since the beginning of the 2020-21 season, unless denoting with an “r” at the end, meaning the time is a relay split from these Olympic Games.

Italy:

Italy Prelims In Reserve
Thomas Ceccon – 53.20 Simone Sabbioni – 53.79
Nicolo Martinenghi – 57.94 Federico Poggio – 59.33
Federico Burdisso – 51.46 Santo Condorelli – 51.62
Alessandro Miressi – 47.42 Lorenzo Zazzeri – 47.33r

The Italians went all-in for the prelims, and it paid off as they claimed the number one seed for the final by almost a second and a half in 3:30.02.

They’ve got options in all four strokes, but we know they’ll be back with the same four swimmers.

Thomas Ceccon was 52.23 leading off the mixed relay, so they have at least one second to drop, and Nicolo Martinenghi has made sub-58 breast splits common for him, giving the Italians a great chance to medal.

Great Britain:

Great Britain Prelims In Reserve
Luke Greenbank – 53.79 Joe Litchfield – 53.75
James Wilby – 59.16 Adam Peaty – 57.37
James Guy – 50.77 N/A
Duncan Scott – 47.75 Jacob Whittle – 48.11 Tom Dean – 48.30

The no-brainer here is Adam Peaty, and the other three swimmers should remain the same.

Joe Litchfield hasn’t had a good meet, so Luke Greenbank should remain on backstroke, and although there are some different options on freestyle, we know Duncan Scott is their man. Scott had that legendary 46.14 anchor to lead the team to gold in this event at the 2019 World Championships, and a similar split would likely mean Olympic gold today.

James Guy has had an amazing showing at these Games, withdrawing from the individual 100 fly to put his focus on relays. Guy would have had a chance to medal in that race, given his 50.00 split on the mixed medley, so GBR may be even more formidable here than they were in Gwangju.

Russia (ROC)

ROC Prelims In Reserve
Grigory Tarasevich – 53.20 Evgeny Rylov – 51.98 Kliment Kolesnikov – 52.00
Anton Chupkov – 59.55 Kirill Prigoda – 59.11
Mikhail Vekovishchev – 51.20 Andrei Minakov – 50.88
Vladislav Grinev – 47.71 Kliment Kolesnikov – 47.11

A pretty disastrous seventh-place showing in the men’s 400 free relay has been followed by some strong individual performances from the Russians, with a pair of elite additions set to come into the fold in Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov.

The 1-2 finishers in the men’s 100 back, Rylov will likely assume the lead-off leg, while Kolesnikov should anchor after winning individual bronze in the 100 free.

The coaching staff has leaned on Kirill Prigoda for breaststroke duties after Anton Chupkov finished 16th in the 100 breast, so Prigoda should stay on—he swam both prelims and finals of the mixed event as well.

Andrei Minakov was fourth in Saturday morning’s 100 fly final, so he’ll take over for Mikhail Vekovishchev there.

There’s also the option of using Kolesnikov on backstroke and Minakov on freestyle, with Kolesnikov and Rylov basically a wash on the lead-off leg (Rylov was also only 52.79 on the mixed relay), and Minakov was the lone bright spot on the 400 free relay with a 47.7 opening leg. However, it seems virtually impossible that the team would leave off Rylov, who has been their top performer of the Games with a pair of individual golds.

China:

China Prelims In Reserve
Xu Jiayu – 52.82 N/A
Yan Zibei – 58.32 N/A
Sun Jiajun – 51.81 N/A
He Junyi – 48.77 Yu Hexin – 48.44

Just like Italy, China is all but a guarantee to bring back the same four swimmers.

The only spot with an option to exchange athletes comes on the freestyle, but Yu Hexin‘s time of 48.44 was done all the way back in September, and he’s only raced the 50 free in Tokyo. He Junyi was 48.50 in the individual 100 free, so he should have more in the tank compared to his prelim split.

Japan:

Japan Prelims In Reserve
Ryosuke Irie – 53.20 N/A
Ryuya Mura – 59.62 Shoma Sato – 59.18
Naoki Mizunuma – 51.42 Takeshi Kawamoto – 51.00
Katsumi Nakamura – 47.78 Katsuhiro Matsumoto – 48.37

Japan has options everywhere but backstroke, but it’s likely they’ll keep the same four swimmers from the heats.

Ryuya Mura and Naoki Mizunuma beat Shoma Sato and Takeshi Kawamoto in their respective individual 100s, and although Katsumi Nakamura had a disappointing 17th-place finish in the 100 free, his 47.7 split in the prelims is encouraging.

Australia:

Australia Prelims In Reserve
Mitch Larkin – 53.46 Tristan Hollard – 54.00
Zac Stubblety-Cook – 59.11 Matthew Wilson – 59.95
David Morgan – 51.97 Matthew Temple – 50.45
Kyle Chalmers – 47.54 Zac Incerti – 47.55r

Although we’ve listed out options for all four strokes, the only change the Aussies will be making will be on fly, where Matthew Temple comes in for David Morgan. Morgan has not had a great meet in Tokyo, and Temple was a solid fifth in the 100 fly final on Saturday in 50.92.

United States:

United States Prelims In Reserve
Hunter Armstrong – 53.51 Ryan Murphy – 52.19
Andrew Wilson – 59.20 Michael Andrew – 58.14 Nic Fink – 58.50
Tom Shields – 51.33 Caeleb Dressel – 49.45
Blake Pieroni – 48.25 Zach Apple – 47.72 Caeleb Dressel – 47.02
Bowe Becker – 47.44r

Ah, here’s where things could get interesting (though they likely won’t).

If selecting their top individual finishers from the 100s, the Americans would be going with Ryan MurphyMichael AndrewCaeleb Dressel and Zach Apple.

Dressel obviously won the 100 free, but has been over two seconds faster than fellow flyer Tom Shields at the meet, while the difference between Dressel and Apple on freestyle is closer to a second.

Individual Times From Tokyo
Ryan Murphy – 52.19 Ryan Murphy – 52.19
Michael Andrew – 58.62 Michael Andrew – 58.62
Caeleb Dressel – 49.45 Tom Shields – 51.57
Zach Apple – 48.04 Caeleb Dressel – 47.02
3:28.30 3:29.40

The only real question from a fan’s perspective comes on breaststroke, where Andrew, despite finishing fourth in the individual 100 breast, has struggled more as the meet has gone on, and Nic Fink, who was third in the event at U.S. Trials, had a strong showing in the 200 breast.

However, based on the decisions the coaching staff has made thus far, it seems very unlikely they would take a leap and put Fink on the relay over Andrew, even with Andrew having the 50 free final earlier in the session. If they wanted to use a swimmer that didn’t qualify for the individual event on the medley relay, they probably would’ve tried it in prelims, and put Fink over Andrew Wilson.

And ultimately the difference is negligible, at least on paper, with Andrew swimming a time of 58.62 in the 100 breast prelims here and a 58.84 in the final. Fink swam a PB of 58.50 at U.S. Trials, just like Andrew (58.14), but neither did so in the final.

As for the freestyle, Apple anchored the men’s 4×100 free relay with a scorching 46.69 split, and despite missing the 100 free final and having a tough leg on the 4×200 relay, he’ll almost surely be back in that spot on Sunday.

Bowe Becker is available, but hasn’t raced in a week.

Canada:

Canada Prelims In Reserve
Markus Thormeyer – 53.66 Cole Pratt – 53.54
Gabe Mastromatteo – 59.97 N/A
Joshua Liendo – 50.92 N/A
Yuri Kisil – 47.82 Brent Hayden – 47.99

Neither Markus Thormeyer nor Cole Pratt have performed at their best at these Games, but Thormeyer was half a second faster in the individual 100 back, so they’ll stick with him there.

The only other possible change for Canada comes on free, where Brent Hayden could get one last swim in after narrowly missing the 50 free final in ninth. Hayden led off in 47.99 on the 400 free relay, but Yuri Kisil split 47.15, so it seems the spot will likely go to Kisil. Even if Hayden were to be given it, he would probably defer to Kisil, knowing his character.

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Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
1 month ago

A Michael Andrew 50 meter freestyle/100 meter breaststroke double? Can you say Steinway?

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 month ago

No need to overanalyze this. Didn’t Andrew beat Fink in all 3 rounds at US OT? Yes, Fink has been doing well but I wouldn’t classify being Top 8 but off the podium in the 200 BR as being “on fire” here; nor is Andrew massively faltering.

Andrew gets the spot. It’s a just a 50 before the relay, he should be able to handle it.

Oof
Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 month ago

I 100% think a 50 free is going to affect his 100 breast swim. The dude can’t even close a 200. I’ll predict he goes 58 high, peaty outsplits him by 2 seconds

Jonathan
Reply to  Oof
1 month ago

His whole thing is that he can race whenever. The 200 for him is the equivalent of an 800 for most. He will be fine

Shadia
Reply to  Oof
1 month ago

Peaty will outsplit everyone by atleast 2 seconds that’s not a fault of Michaels

Oof
Reply to  Shadia
1 month ago

He won’t lol. He was 56.7 and Italy had a 57.7 literally just last night. Unless you think peaty is gonna be a 55?

Ytho
Reply to  Oof
1 month ago

54!

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Ytho
1 month ago

According to GMM. Who needs to be drug tested.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

GMM early wild predictions have been rubbish

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Oof
1 month ago

Peaty – 56.78 (yesterday)
Andrew – 59.03

That equates to a 2.25 seconds difference.

anonymous
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
1 month ago

Except andrew has been under 58.1 American Record

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  anonymous
1 month ago

The media is looking for a 58.1 at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Still can’t find one.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  anonymous
1 month ago

Andrew also has been 1:55 multiple times.

Want to guess what has happened in Tokyo?

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Shadia
1 month ago

I predict the following for the final of the men’s 4 x 100 meter fteestyle relay:

Peaty – 56.78
Andrew – 59.03

Shadia
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
1 month ago

Im thinking more Peaty 56.70-90 Andrew 58.50-7.0

Coachy
Reply to  Oof
1 month ago

“Dude can’t even close a 200” as an argument for why he shouldn’t do the 50 and 100……

Distance Per Stroke
Reply to  Coachy
1 month ago

Peaty can’t finish a 200 breast, take him out of the 100!

Coachy
Reply to  Distance Per Stroke
1 month ago

Hahahaha, exactly!

That70s_swimmer
Reply to  Distance Per Stroke
1 month ago

Yes – take Peaty out – then we can play “find the coaches”. Witness protection program? An artificial island off the coast of Africa? Richard Branson’s flight to nowhere? I’m putting my $$$ on Rowdy Gaines’s house in Florida.

Oof
Reply to  Coachy
1 month ago

i never suggested he shouldn’t do it. just that the other swim would affect his 100 breast… you’re putting words in my mouth

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
Reply to  Oof
1 month ago

Conjecture is not a compelling reason to hand a finals (and likely medal contention) spot to a swimmer who didn’t even make Top 2 in the nation’s trials and is swimming “pretty well” in Tokyo.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wave 1.5 Qualifier
Oof
Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 month ago

i never suggested that? did you mean to respond to someone else?

That70s_swimmer
Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 month ago

I think Seliskar would agree with you 200%.

Swim nerd
Reply to  Oof
1 month ago

According to that, this relay will be incredibly interesting, with murphy swimming a 52.2 to greenback’s 53.7, then Andrew swimming a 58 high and peaty swimming a 56 high. Dressel should outsplit James guy by about a second swimming a 49 low Maybe even a 48 high compared to a 50 flat at best from guy. This would have Duncan Scott being approximately a half second to a full second behind apple.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Swim nerd
1 month ago

I think Greenback, and everyone else on the GBR relay, is going to have the swim of his life. Peaty is going to blow by MA (especially) like a frickin slingshot, Scott will go off even with Apple and will close like a MFer. They have all the momentum in a positive way, where, aside from Dressel, the U.S. has momentum in the opposite direction in the other three legs.

Swim nerd
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

I know this is well after the race, but this race just proves how important drafting is in relays, especially in freestyle. Just think of it, in 2008 Lezak was drafting off of Bernard for about as long as humanly possible, in 2019, Scott was drafting off Adrian for much of the race, but here, as Scott and apple were separated by 3 lanes, there was no draft, so Duncan had a much harder time closing

thezwimmer
Reply to  Oof
1 month ago

Remember Miller went 59.0 in London after his bronze medal. 58 high for Andrew would be good considering his other swims

Oof
Reply to  thezwimmer
1 month ago

yeah i was being generous with that time IMO.

pete kennedy
Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
1 month ago

Some question here concerning Andrew’s ability to handle pressure and control his races.
He has not trained for it nor has he proven to be a team player (YET) tonight is the night
Wish him the best.

Shadia
1 month ago

It’s going to be Andrew… Fink posted on Instagram earlier seeming like his meet is done so don’t think it was that much of a dilemma for the coaches

Facts
Reply to  Shadia
1 month ago

Hopefully he’ll do well. He’s good at 150s and his schedule is a 50 free + 100 breast which adds up

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

This made me laugh way more than it should have

Runnergrl37
Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

I don’t know why this made me laugh. It’s sad but it’s true.

Coachy
Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

He’s good at the 200 as well (5th at Olympics, #3 all time American)

Lacticacidlord
Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

Lmao this comment is gold

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Shadia
1 month ago

Ugh!

Ghost
Reply to  Shadia
1 month ago

Yep unfortunately Nic is out with his tweet!
Why did Blake get the prelim nod on mixed medley over Becker? It seems political.
Why more hate on MA 2im and no hate for Chase’s 2im and his apparent checking out after 4im?!?

Shadia
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

Bizzare both Beckers heats and final times were faster than everything Blake has put down this week. And I was honestly in shock that Kalisz got away with that swim he came 6th in his semi-final I thought he would medal

Dan
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

Chase is coming home with an individual gold medal. MA is not.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dan
Ghost
Reply to  Dan
1 month ago

So you are good with him not making finals and going 1:58? If he was going to check out, then give someone else who got 3rd at Trials to represent USA! Were you good in 2019 when he didn’t make top 8 in 4im? Chase medaled at Worlds in 2IM! Michael has come a long way and placed higher than Chase….let’s spread out the negative comments!

Dan
Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

Would you rather:

1) win one gold medal and miss one final

Or

2) final but not medal all of your events

For the rest of his life, Chase is an Olympic champion. Michael Andrew is not. Maybe that changes tonight.

That70s_swimmer
Reply to  Shadia
1 month ago

It will be Andrew – but I’m thinking 58.8-59 because he has limited relay start experiences (unlike college and those on large teams). He will be too anxious worrying about going early. That along with the 50 – it’s a crap shoot.

John B
1 month ago

Quit the hate on michael Andrew. He deserves to swim this relay period

Rafam
Reply to  John B
1 month ago

Amen.❤

swimmer'
Reply to  John B
1 month ago

Not his biggest fan but he should definitely be on this relay. Stupid to say that he shouldn’t be on a relay when he has gone faster than Wilson and Fink every time he has swam. He will at least equal what he went in the individual a few days ago (58.6) with a relay start. Not to mention its a 100 and not a 200. In my opinion his training just doesn’t lend itself to doing three rounds of a 200 even if it is just IM but he can pull out a 100. He split his 100 breast decently throughout the meet and he split 32 for every round of the 200 IM. I think people are overthinking… Read more »

Jojo
1 month ago

michaael andrew will die for sure after that 50 free. fink is the way to go but of course, peter wont let his son come home empty handed

Last edited 1 month ago by Jojo
Ugh
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

Idk if I can bear to watch MA die again. It’s hard to see

anonymous
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

Peter is not the head coach

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

Peter Andrew will go FULL KAREN if they didn’t swim Mandrew.

Horninco
1 month ago

I hope for his own sake, that the US doesn’t lose this relay because Andrew goes a 58.9 while the others go 52/49/46.6

He would never live that down.

I think USA wins this barring mel’s prediction of a 54. Peaty leg coming true or a 46.1 Scott anchor

Michael
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

Yup

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael
swimmer'
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

58.9 is still faster than what Wilson went in prelims though and there’s no evidence that Fink could go faster than that so really the best option is to gamble with him and hope he shows up.

Ratio
Reply to  swimmer'
1 month ago

Fink went 58.5 at Trials. How is there no evidence?

Ehhhish
Reply to  Ratio
1 month ago

Because he hasn’t swam the 100 at this meet and was slower in the 200 here than at trials. I mean I think he could probably go the same time as Andrew maybe but like Andrew got 4th in the 100 and split 32 three times in his 200 IM. Not saying he’s a lot better but there’s nothing that shows fink would be better. Honestly think they would go about the same time so why not pick the guy who’s been 58.6 within the past week.

ACC fan
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

MA would not be responsible for losing the relay anymore than Zach Apple was responsible for losing the 4×200 free relay, or the fact that Ryan White should have been disqualified for going away past the 15 m mark on the 400 medley relay. MA has earned the right to be the breastroker on the US relay.

Jojo
1 month ago

I can see how tired Michael Andrew is. USRPT- Ultra Short Rest in Peace Training.

Horninco
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

His trials results were amazing, he hasn’t double tapered well. Is that a USRPT problem or just a bad taper, which happens? Or pressure?

Cornbread
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

Should be bad taper – the whole point of USRPT is that the swimmer should be able to swim fast all the time

SCCOACH
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

Id say all of the above based on how embarrassing that 200 IM was

Jonathan R
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

one of the main benefits of USRPT is that there is no need to taper. You are race ready all the time, because you are training at race pace.

Pags
Reply to  Jonathan R
1 month ago

As far back as 2014, Rushall was admitting that USRPT can generate accumulated fatigue, and that there should be a de-loading process ahead of a key meet for peak performance.

sven
Reply to  Pags
1 month ago

Yeah, I’m no USRPT fanboy, but it’s annoying how many people have strong opinions about USRPT that are based on incorrect assumptions about the program. A lot of the “it’s not high yardage” and “it doesn’t require a taper” crowd could use a literature dive.

Thomas
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

Honestly, I think they’ve adjusted his training a little bit to add more yards. It took him awhile to match his meters times to his yard times… I think that’s a product of “textbook” USRPT training not working well for the big pool.

anonymous
Reply to  Thomas
1 month ago

He set an American Record seems it worked

sven
Reply to  Thomas
1 month ago

I disagree. I think his long course meters times have been ahead of his SCY/SCM times for a while. Look at the World Cup races from a couple of years ago where he was doing really well at the start when some of the meets were long course, and then his placings dropped off once they switched to short course. Yes, finishing races is an issue, but I don’t think that’s a conditioning thing as much as a pacing thing (and technique… what works for a 50 does not work when fatigued at the end of a 200). The problem is that no one, regardless of training style, can take a 200 IM out that fast and hold on for… Read more »

Muricá
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

I think its pressure more than anything, but my theory is that the pressure led to him either over-resting to try to get a little confidence and extra easy speed or over training to try to hold a base. I refuse to believe that MA didn’t try to change something in order to overcompensate.

I was telling my homie: MA is in wierd territory cus he literally decided to reinvent the wheel, so a lot of the wisdom from the US coaches n athletes don’t fit into his learning curve, and he is here learning how to navigate a high level with a new method for the first time. Dude has put all the eggs in this swimming basket and… Read more »

ex-coach
Reply to  Muricá
1 month ago

imo, perfectly said.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

I think they spent too much time trying to gain some semblance of aerobic capacity in the run-up. His VLOG showed a training camp cession where he went 20 X 50 fly, 20 X 50 free, and a broken 200 IM at race pace. If they were doing a lot of that, it was too much. And he said he was hurting a lot.

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

More like plain old Rest in Peace:

the piano man cometh

Coachy
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
1 month ago

the piano man did not cometh

Jojo
1 month ago

I feel for Andrew though. Family setup a watch party expecting him to win the 2 IM, only to watch him die miserably in the free leg. It’s like they invited people to see him fail lol

Please and Thank you
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

Not an MA defender, but I expect every kid’s family in the Olympics is having a watch party. They earned that.

Coachy
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

When you hear about ugliness in the world, look at this comment and the + and – associated with it. These are truly sad times.

Jojo
Reply to  Coachy
1 month ago

you know whats sadder? selfish unvaccinated people who put everyone around them at risk. MA deserves all the hate in the world tbh

Comet
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

I hope u are joking with your comments about MA otherwise u need a lot of help

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

I guess you never attended a wake.

Yabo
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
1 month ago

I attended a wake during the last 50 of MAs 2IM

anonymous
Reply to  Jojo
1 month ago

They are there for the good or bad

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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