2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
- Open Water swimming: Wednesday, August 4 – Thursday, August 5, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 7 PM / Semifinals & Finals: 10:30 AM (Local time)
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The United States has been a powerhouse over the course of Olympic swimming history on the relays, particularly so on the men’s side.
In the modern history of the Games, other than the boycotted 1980 Olympics in Moscow, the U.S. men have never failed to reach the podium in a relay.
In the men’s 4×200 freestyle, the Americans had won gold in 17 of the 24 Olympic races they’d contested, including the last four in a row, entering the Tokyo Games.
But in the final on Wednesday morning, all of that changed.
The American men failed to reach the podium for the first time at the Olympics, plummeting to fourth in a time of 7:02.43 after a promising start.
Great Britain won gold, as expected, narrowly missing the world record in a time of 6:58.58, while Russia (ROC) claimed silver in 7:01.81 and the Australians swooped in for bronze in 7:01.84.
Kieran Smith had a phenomenal lead-off leg for the Americans, becoming the third-fastest performer in the country’s history in 1:44.74. Drew Kibler (1:45.51) had a solid leg, keeping them close to the lead, but Zach Apple (1:47.31) struggled on his final 50, and they fell down to fifth.
Townley Haas did his best to salvage things, anchoring in 1:44.87, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to reach the podium.
Four-time Olympic medalist Anthony Ervin offered some perspective on the disappointment, referencing the American 400 free relay relay he was on at the 2000 Games that suffered its first loss, suggesting this will be a motivator in future years.
In 2000 we lost the 4×1 for first time in Olympic swimming history. Both @JasonLezak and I were on that relay…and our stories were just beginning to be written. Men on that relay will be back with a vengeance. 🇺🇸 https://t.co/eFxg6fMo08
The United States has gone from being world-beaters to extremely vulnerable in this relay since the 2016 Games, which not coincidentally, was the final meet of Michael Phelps‘ career.
The American men have finished third in each of the last two World Championships, and were also beaten by Great Britain in 2015, when Phelps was also absent. They did win in 2013 without him, but prior the 2015 loss, the Americans had won the event at every Olympics or World Championships since 2003.
NORTH AMERICA QUICK HITS, DAY 4
- Penny Oleksiak won bronze in the women’s 200 freestyle to earn her sixth career Olympic medal, tying her for the most won by a Canadian all-time at the Olympic Games. It’s also the highest total from a Canadian at the Summer Olympics.
- Katie Ledecky and Erica Sullivan gave the United States a historic 1-2 finish in the inaugural women’s 1500 freestyle Olympic final.
- University of Virginia teammates Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass won silver and bronze medals in the women’s 200 IM, making the U.S. six-for-six in individual medley medals thus far at the Games.
NATIONAL RECORDS BROKEN ON DAY 4
- American: Bobby Finke, men’s 800 freestyle (7:42.72)
NORTH AMERICAN MEDAL TABLE AFTER DAY 4