Relay Lineups: U.S. Opts For Kibler & Apple, No Dressel On Men’s 4×200 Free


The United States has opted not to roll the dice and run with Caeleb Dressel in the men’s 4×200 freestyle relay final.

The coaching staff has gone with the more justifiable and perhaps conversative approach, keeping Drew Kibler on after a solid showing in the prelims, bringing in individual 200 freestylers Kieran Smith and Townley Haas, and rounding out the squad with Zach Apple.

Smith and Haas earned their spots by going 1-2 in the 200 free at the Olympic Trials. Kibler was third in that race, and further reinforced his inclusion in the final after leading off in 1:46.12 in the heats—faster than the three other swimmers with relay exchanges.

Apple was only fifth at the Trials, but has had a strong start to his debut Olympic campaign after anchoring the Americans to gold in the 400 free relay, splitting a blistering 46.69. Apple also had the individual 100 free during the heats session, which would be a primary reason why the staff opted to utilize Blake Pieroni, who was seventh in the 200 free at Trials but qualified for Tokyo in the 400 free relay.

Apple swam a best time of 1:46.22 in the semi-finals at Trials, and went 1:46.45 in the final—not much faster than Dressel’s prelim in Omaha.

Dressel was always an option after going 1:46.63 at the Olympic Trials last month, and as arguably the most talented active swimmer in the world, many believe he has at least a relay split of 1:45-mid in him. But he’s got a busy program over the course of the rest of the meet, including the 100 free semis earlier in the session.

Bringing Dressel onto the finals relay would be a hail-mary type of move in order to bridge the gap to Great Britain, who may have come in as favorites but are now overwhelmingly looking like a near lock for gold. Even if the U.S. did tap Dressel on the shoulder, first place appears to be out of reach barring something miraculous.

Some of the other moves were no-brainers, like Great Britain bringing in Duncan Scott. The Brits have a stacked lineup, led by Tom Dean and Scott, who went 1-2 in the individual 200 free, and 2015 world champion James Guy, who blasted a 1:44.66 split in the prelims.

Matt Richards, who led off in 1:46.35 in the heats, has been chosen as the fourth swimmer over Calum Jarvis, who split 1:45.53 with a flying start. Either way, the Brits will have a shot at the 12-year-old world record.

The Aussies have added Kyle Chalmers and Thomas Neill, while Elijah Winnington, the country’s top individual swimmer entered in the 200 free at the Games after Chalmers dropped the event, has been taken off after being out-split by Zac Incerti (1:45.58) in the heats.

Rounding out the Australian team will be Alexander Graham, who was very strong with a 1:45.72 lead-off in the evening.

The Italians bring in Stefano Ballo, while Russia (ROC) has surprisingly left off Alexander Shchegolev, instead opting to use last night’s 100 backstroke champion Evgeny Rylov. Shchegolev was 1:45.82 at the Russian Olympic Trials in April, but only split 49.13 on the prelim 4×100 free relay. Rylov swam a best time of 1:46.51 at those Trials.

Mikhail Dovgalyuk (1:46.56 lead-off in the prelims) also remains on the team, while Mikhail Vekovishchev (1:46.11 split) has been bumped.

The Brazilians, the 8th seed in prelims, has kept the same relay, but has opted to swim from fastest to slowest, leading off with their National Record holder in the 200 free Scheffer.

Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Final – Lineups (By Lane)

  1. Germany (Lukas Märtens, Poul Zellmann, Henning Mühlleitner, Jacob Heidtmann)
  2. United States (Kieran Smith, Drew Kibler, Zach Apple, Townley Haas)
  3. Italy (Stefano Ballo, Matteo Ciampi, Filippo Megli, Stefano di Cola)
  4. Great Britain (Thomas Dean, James Guy, Matthew Richards, Duncan Scott)
  5. Australia (Alexander Graham, Kyle Chalmers, Zac Incerti, Thomas Neill)
  6. Russian Olympic Committeee (Martin Malyutin, Ivan Girev, Evgeny Rylov, Mikhail Dovgalyuk)
  7. Switzerland (Antonio Djakovic, Nis Liess, Noe Ponti, Roman Mityukov)
  8. Brazil (Breno Scheffer, Murilo Sartori, Breno Correia, Luiz Melo)

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1 year ago

One report said that USA would’ve never won that relay, but actually can. Apple was 1:18.31. If he went a 26 or 27 in the final lap he could’ve been 1.44 or 1.45, which is 3 seconds faster, making 6:59.31. Haas was a 1:44.14 in 2016, so if he did that again, subtract 0.73 (he went 1.44.87). 6:58.58, exactly the same as GB.

Mr. Perry
1 year ago

The decision to put Apple on the US relay was pushed by Ray Looze. This was despite Apple not having the 4th best PB and despite the tough double.

Apple, a previous IU swimmer was put on the relay by the IU coach. Favoritism, and the desire to bolster his own resume just cost the deserving USA swimmers a medal. I am sick to my stomach.

How much can CD bench???
1 year ago

All these “this was the right call” comments sure didn’t age well.

1 year ago

The aged poorly

1 year ago

Phelps will always be the goat

1 year ago

Throwing in the towel on putting forward the best line-up possible then. I guess it will rest Dressel for the rest of the meet/make WRs more likely though.

super classy swim
1 year ago


Last edited 1 year ago by super classy swim
super classy swim
1 year ago


Last edited 1 year ago by super classy swim

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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