According to the official Tokyo 2020 entry lists, Turkey will send a total of 11 swimmers to the Olympics this summer. The roster will feature 6 men and 5 women.
2020 Turkish Olympic Swimming Roster
- Berkay Ogretir – Men’s 100/200 breaststroke
- Emre Sakci – Men’s 100 breaststroke
- Umitcan Gures – Men’s 100 butterfly
- Berke Saka – Men’s 200 backstroke
- Baturalp Unlu – Men’s 200 freestyle
- Yiğit Aslan – Men’s 800 freestyle
- Deniz Ertan – Women’s 800/1500 freestyle
- Merve Tuncel – Women’s 400/800/1500 freestyle
- Defne Taçyildiz – Women’s 200 butterfly
- Viktoria Gunes – Women’s 200 IM
- Beril Böcekler – Women’s 400 freestyle
This year’s Turkish swimming roster is a result of the significant improvement that the nation has undergone over the past few years in the sport. Turkey was the recipient of the 2020 National Development Swammy Award due to the country’s collective rise in the world rankings and the fact that they lowered a total of 14 national records in 2020 alone.
Turkey’s momentum has continued into this year and the contingent who will represent the country in Tokyo has so far lowered another 10 national records thus far in 2021.
Among those record-breakers is breakout star Merve Tuncel who has been making waves in the distance events over the past few seasons. At the recent 2021 European Junior Championships, Tuncel pulled off a clean sweep as she took gold in the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles, setting new Turkish records in all 3. Her times of 4:06.25, 8:21.91, and 15:55.23 will make her a dangerous wild card in the distance events in Tokyo as she makes her Olympic debut.
While Tuncel has led the way in Turkey’s distance dominance, she will be joined by fellow juniors Deniz Ertan and Beril Böcekler. Both Ertan and Bocekler were present at Euro Juniors earlier this month and collected some hardware of their own. Ertan raced to a silver medal in the 1500 with a 16:14.26 while Bocekler was an 8:33.52 in the 800, also for silver. Despite Bocekler’s silver medal, Ertan will be repping Turkey in both the 800 and 1500 freestyles while Bocekler will swim the 400 free.
The other 2 women on the Turkish roster are Defne Taçyildiz in the women’s 200 butterfly and Viktoria Gunes in the women’s 200 IM. Gunes has arguably been known more for her breaststroke in the past but has also been a consistent threat in the IM events, holding the 200 records at a 2:11.03 from the 2015 World Championships. Her entry time for Tokyo is a 2:12.37 which she swam in April 2021.
Tacyildiz meanwhile set a new Turkish record in the 200 butterfly earlier this year with her 2:09.37 swim at the 2-21 Edirne Cup and will be making her Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Turkey was well represented this year at the 2021 European Junior Championships on the men’s side as well, partly due to Yiğit Aslan‘s gold medal-winning 7:51.20 in the 800 freestyle and Berke Saka‘s 1:59.02 silver medal finish in the 200 backstroke. That swim for Aslan was a new Turkish record in the event while Saka’s backstroke swim was a little slower than his own 1:57.36 mark from April 2021. Aslan and Saka will be racing the 800 free and 200 backstroke as their sole individual events in Tokyo.
Emre Sakci and Berkay Ogretir will be heading to the Games as well as respective Turkish record holders in the men’s 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Sakci lowered the 100 mark to a 58.85 back at the 2019 World Championships and will be among the myriad of men who have hit a 58 in the 100 breast and will be gunning for a 57 and a spot on the podium. Ogretir will also swim the 100 breast and will go in with a 59.23 but his main event is the 200 breaststroke in which he holds a Turkish record of 2:09.86 from the 2020 Turkish Winter Championships.
Rounding out the Turkish Olympic roster will be Umitcan Gures in the men’s 100 butterfly and Baturalp Ünlü in the 200 free. Continuing with the record-setting trend this season, Gures lowered the 100 butterfly mark to a 51.91 at the 2021 Turkish Championships in April while Unlu hit a 1:47.08 in the 200 free in December 2020.
This will be among the largest teams that Turkey has sent to the Games for swimming, tying the 11 swimmers that traveled to Beijing back in 2008. There, no swimmers made it past prelims in any events with Derya Büyükuncu getting the closest in the men’s 200 backstroke, hitting a 1:59.86 for 22nd place.