Sjostrom’s Split Bodes Well For Swedish Medley, Russian Men’s BR Legs Falter

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Day 1 has wrapped, and we suddenly have a wealth of new data points to use in projecting out the remaining relays. Here’s how today’s results could affect the six remaining relay events:

Sjostrom & Hansson Buoy Swedish Medley

All along, we’ve noted that Sweden has the pieces to put together its best relays in years – particularly in the women’s 4×100 medley. But everything has hinged on Sarah Sjostromthe 27-year-old fly/free star who broke her elbow earlier this year and wasn’t sure what kind of shape she’d be in by Tokyo.

Sjostrom was resoundingly brilliant on day 1, going 56.1 and 56.4 in two butterfly swims, plus 52.9 and 52.6 in two 100 free swims from a flat start. The latter of those free swims broke the Olympic record while leading off Sweden’s 6th-place relay.

Meanwhile, Louise Hansson went 56.9 twice in the 100 fly, just tenths off her personal best. Using season-best swims from three likely medley legs (splits from Euros in July for Louise and Sophie Hansson and a time from Sette Colli in June for backstroker Michelle Coleman), if Sjostrom can get anywhere near her career-best 51.9 flying-start time, Sweden could go 3:53 – smashing the national record by two seconds and perhaps challenging the medal favorites from Australia, the U.S., and Canada.

Swimmer Time From?
Michelle Coleman 59.62
Sette Colli in June
Sophie Hansson 1:05.45 Euros in May
Louise Hansson 56.71 Euros in May
Sarah Sjostrom 51.90 2019 Worlds
3:53.68

Other Medley Notes:

  • The other medal contenders look strong, too, though. Penny Oleksiak splitting 52.2 should give Canada tons of confidence here, and Maggie MacNeil has looked solid in butterfly with the 100 fly final yet to come.
  • Abbey Weitzeil was a very strong 52.6 for Team USA, and probably retains the medley anchor job over Simone Manuel, who split 52.9 tonight.
  • Australia probably wishes they had a second flyer. Emma McKeon split 51.3 on free and Cate Campbell was just 52.2. But the Aussies will probably have to “settle” for Campbell’s split (still the third-fastest of any swimmer in the field tonight) because they’ll need McKeon on fly, where she’s swimming great.

Men’s Medley Relay Updates

The only men’s event we’ve seen with true relay impact has been the 100 breast, and even that is incomplete with the final yet to come. Still, here’s a look at who has impressed and who hasn’t sparkled yet:

The good:

  • Adam Peaty looks every bit the difference-maker he’s expected to be for Great Britian, though he wasn’t anywhere near his world-record 56.8 in heats or semis.
  • Italy should have a difference-maker of their own in Nicolo Martinenghiwho probably remains the only swimmer on a medal-contending relay who could be reasonably expected to join Peaty under 58 on the breast split based on results so far. He went 58.2 in semis.
  • China is probably feeling pretty solid about Yan Zibei on that leg after a 58.7 today.

The bad:

  • It’s too early to be actually concerned, but Michael Andrew was just 58.6 and then 58.9 for Team USA. The Americans are probably happier overall if Andrew can put together his best swim in the final, rather than heats and semis like he did at Olympic Trials, so we’ll wait and see. But he needs to be a reliable 58-low split to keep the U.S. medley relay gold streak alive, and right now, result are inconclusive to lock him in for that type of split.
  • Australia and Russia are also medal contenders in the men’s medley. But neither advanced anyone to the 100 breast final. Things look especially dire for Australia, with no men under a minute. Matthew Wilson was 1:00.03 and Zac Stubblety-Cook 1:00.05, so Australia will have to choose between two potential legs who are very close with neither one swimming particularly well.
  • Russia will have its own tough choice between two not-so-great options. Kirill Prigoda probably gets the spot with a 59.44 in semis, but that’s not really a time that will inspire confidence. Anton Chupkov was faster in heats (59.55 to Prigoda’s 59.68), but then faded to 59.9 in semis.

Other notes:

  • Australia will really have to keep their fingers crossed that Chelsea Hodges swims well in the women’s 100 breast, because she might be the best option for the mixed medley relay. Emma McKeon may just take over freestyle duty from Cate Campbell if the Aussies choose to use Matt Temple on fly.
  • Russia might have to lock into Yulia Efimova for the breast leg of the mixed medley, which was probably already their best option.
  • If Michael Andrew is just swimming ‘ok’, it probably doesn’t make sense to try him on fly for either of the medley relays. If he pops a big 100 breast tomorrow, though, then it might be back on the table.
  • The Netherlands are a sneaky factor in that mixed medley with Arno Kamminga tearing up the breaststroke to the tune of 57.8 and Femke Heemskerk splitting 51 on the 100 free.
  • Kieran Smith dropping almost a second in the 400 free is the kind of momentum the American men need to have any medal chance in the 4×200 free relay. Smith should be the best leg of that relay, and it’s helpful to see him swimming very well in his first Olympics.

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anonymous
1 month ago

Don’t worry I Fully believe MA will get better tomorrow
Maybe not 58.1
But I expect him to be around 58.3

Facts
Reply to  anonymous
1 month ago

A sub 58.5 would be a welcome sight for him. A bit concerned for his 200 IM due to his breast performances. Well see how well Scott and Larkin do tmrow cuz they can beat MA if they’re on

Sub13
1 month ago

I can’t see Australia deviating from MMFF in the MMR. Surely even if Hodges medals she won’t make up enough time to justify pushing Campbell out of free or McKeon out of fly.

Drama King
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

If Kyle delivers 47 low or 46 high leg in free relay, they should put him in to Mixed Medley.
C1 is not going to do those miracle 51 low splits anymore. If Temple does a 47 mid split or something , i would consider him too to have WWMM lineup. All depends on what Hodges or Hansen does tonight.

Nick
Reply to  Drama King
1 month ago

Australia more likely to go FMFM imo. Use McKeown, Wilson/Cook, McKeon, Chalmers.

Lille
Reply to  Drama King
1 month ago

DONT U EVER COUNT C1 OUT AGAIN! (i’m not even Australian)!!!

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
1 month ago

A time of 59.62 in the backstroke leg won’t cut it for SWE not against AUS, CAN, USA.

Yozhik
1 month ago

Penny Oleksiak had 0.09 reaction time. So yo can add to her split time 0.6 sec or even more (relay start has more momentum) to get some idea where she stands at in individual 100FR race. Pretty much the same time as shown at Trials. And that is not the time to win individual Olympic medal.

Nick
1 month ago

Interested to see what Sophie and Coleman post in the heats tonight (100 breast and 100 back). Also I disagree, I was a bit disappointed by MacNeil but the final is yet to come

Togger
1 month ago

57.6 from Peaty would have kind of worried me a few days ago, but seems to be just the morning finals.

He went faster with the ‘stache ffs.

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Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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