Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
Coming out of the pandemic-restricted 2020 season, we knew the Tokyo Olympics would be unpredictable.
But on day 1, we got a shock no one saw coming.
After the opening prelims session of the Tokyo Olympics, we singled out Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia as our Prelims All-Star – typically a daily profile we use to highlight an athlete who had a big swim or a compelling story, but who probably wouldn’t get the press of the eventual gold medal winners.
Tuns out, Hafnaoui ascended from Prelims All-Star to Olympic gold medalist in the span of one night. The 18-year-old dropped his best time from 3:46.16 to 3:45.68 in heats, moving from 16th to 8th on the first evening of competition. After making the final by 0.14 seconds, he dropped 2.32 more seconds the following morning to upset the field in 3:43.36 for gold.
Hafnaoui’s race remains one of the most memorable of these Olympics, a massive upset from an outside lane with a jubilant celebration fitting the moment.