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 final race of day 6 finals at the Tokyo Games was an absolute dog fight until the very end. The Chinese and Australian contingents passed the lead back and forth for nearly the entire race, all the while nearly a body length ahead of world record pace.
The USA seemed to be out of contention for gold until the last leg of the race when powerhouse Katie Ledecky overtook Australia and bearly ran down Chinese anchor Li Bingjie. While Katie Ledecky managed to out-split Bingjie’s 1:55.30 closing split with a 1:53.76, China had too much of a lead and finished the race in a 7:40.33 to the USA’s 7:40.73.
When the Australians came into the wall with a 7:41.29 for bronze, all 3 of the top teams had swum under the former world records held by the Aussies (7:41.50) from the 2019 World Championships.
While the biggest storyline here is China’s stellar performance, there’s also something important to note about the USA’s performance. Their swim at the Tokyo 2020 Games marks the second straight time that the American team swam under the former world record in a 4×200 freestyle final but wound up coming second place, thus not achieving an official world record.
At the 2019 World Championships, the American team of Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Melanie Margalis, and Katie McLaughlin swam a 7:41.87 American record to take second place to Australia’s 7:41.50. Both swims marked the first occasions of any women’s 4×200 freestyle teams getting under 7:42, improving upon China’s 7:42.08 from the 2009 World Championships.
An Olympic and World Championships silver medal are enough to be proud of on their own but it would be equally as tough knowing that one was within less than half a second of the gold medal and world record.
The USA have won Olympic gold at the last 2 Games but was a little over the Chinese 2009 world record both times, hitting a 7:42.92 in 2012 and a 7:43.03 in 2016. Further, the last time the USA women held the world record in the event was back in 2007 when they hit a 7:50.09 at World Championships to take the mark from the Germans.
NORTH AMERICA QUICK HITS, DAY 4
- While the USA women touched for 2nd place in the 4×200 freestyle, Caeleb Dressel and Bobby Finke both managed to claim Olympic gold for themselves in the 100 and 800 freestyles, respectively. Dressel scorched a 47.02 Olympic record to claim gold while Bobby Finke earned his medal with a 7:41.87 800 free.
- Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith both picked up their second individual medals of the Games in the 200 butterfly. Smith took silver with a 2:05.30, while Flickinger was bronze in a 2:05.65.
- Nic Fink was just off the podium in the men’s 200 breast final, notching a 2:07.93 for 5th place.
- Defending 100 freestyle champion Penny Oleksiak got herself into a second straight Olympic final by swimming a 52.86 for Canada in the semi-final. Abbey Weitzeil of the USA also got a spot in the heat, notching a 52.99 for 7th place.
- Also qualifying for a final was USA’s Annie Lazor and Lilly King who notched a 3rd and 5th place finish in the women’s 200 breast semi-final.
- Finally, Michael Andrew got into the Olympic 200 IM final with his 1:57.08 for 4th in the semis.
- Bobby Finke’s 800 free win marked a new American record, improving upon his own 7:42.72 from prelims.
- Dressel wasn’t quite at his best in the men’s 100 freestyle final but did manage to notch a new Olympic record of 47.02 to improve upon Eamon Sullivan’s 47.05 from 2008.
- Since it was under the former world record, the American women’s 4×200 freestyle swim of 7:40.73 marked a new American and Americas record.
NORTH AMERICAN MEDAL TABLE AFTER DAY 4