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)
- Full aquatics schedule
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- Start Lists & Results
Men’s 4×200 freestyle relay
- World Record: USA (Phelps, Berens, Walters, Lochte) – 6:58.55 (2009)
- Olympic Record: USA (Phelps, Lochte, Berens, Vanderkaay) – 6:58.56 (2008)
- World Junior Record: USA (Magahey, Urlando, Mitchell, Foster) – 7:08.37 (2019)
- 2016 Olympic Champion: USA (Dwyer, Haas, Lochte, Phelps) – 7:00.66
As with all of these relays, one major factor to consider is the schedule and where it will force event doubles or affect relay lineups. Here’s a look at all the events sharing a Day 4 Finals session with this men’s 4×200 free relay (men’s events bolded):
- 100 Free M (Semifinals)
- 200 Free W (Final)
- 200 Fly M (Final)
- 200 Fly W (Semifinals)
- 200 Breast M (Semifinals)
- 200 IM W (Final)
- 1500 Free W (Final)
- 4×200 Free M (Final)
Fortunately, this relay fits pretty well in the jigsaw puzzle that is the Olympic swimming lineup. The 100 free semifinals should have a lot of crossover with this relay, but the two events are at complete opposite ends of the session lineup and, based on session start and end times, there should be roughly an hour and a half between the two races.
The listed aggregate times are composed of season-best times from the top four legs per country. We’ll note where a leg is expected to be significantly faster or slower, or where another swimmer could ultimately be on the finals relay.
Great Britain comes in with the best aggregate time by a wide margin – but it’s also hard to consider them the clear favorites after finishing 4th at 2019 Worlds and second to Russia at Euros just a few months ago. The Brits have the top two individual 200 freestylers in the world this season in Duncan Scott and Tom Dean.
The Euros loss probably hangs on the fact that Dean was just 1:46.4 on the leadoff and Scott 1:45.2 on the anchor despite going 1:45.3 and 1:45.1, respectively, in the individual 200. But both were dealing with tough doubles that session. Dean had the 100 free final earlier in the session and Scott the 200 IM semifinals. Neither will have a double for this session of the Olympic Games.
Matt Richards could potentially double with the 100 free semifinals, but he’s only the 17th seed there and if push really comes to shove, he might wind up scratching the semis to key in on a gold opportunity in this relay. James Guy has been a very reliable relay leg, splitting 1:45.8 at Euros and 1:45.4 back at 2019 Worlds.
Australia won the 2019 Worlds title, crushing a 7:00.85 – so they can definitely swim faster than this aggregate. They won’t have Clyde Lewis, though, who led off that relay in 1:45.5.
The Aussies will really roll on depth in this relay. They have no one at the level of Scott/Dean for now, but they’ve got four really good legs without a weak spot. Kyle Chalmers split 1:45.3 at Worlds in 2019 and Alexander Graham split 1:45.0. Chalmers will almost-certainly have the 100 free semis before this race, but might have the luxury of shutting it down early in that race if he (the defending Olympic champ) gets out front.
The question mark is Mack Horton, who split a wild 1:44.8 on the gold-winning relay in 2019. He was just 6th at Australian Trials (1:46.3) in this event and is a relay-only swimmer entered only in this event. But the ceiling is obviously extremely high, so look for him to use a prelims leg to try to bump one of the top four off the finals relay.
Zac Incerti (1:46.1 this season) is another depth piece who should allow Chalmers and others to rest up through heats.
Did somebody say “depth”? Enter Russia, where relay freestylers have started growing on trees. Russia has seven men in the top 50 in the world this season, including all four names above in the top 20. European 200/400 free champ Martin Malyutin is the headliner, with 1:44.7 speed that beat Scott (silver) and Dean (bronze) head to head at Euros.
Aleksandr Shchegolev split 1:45.3 at Euros as Russia trounced Great Britain by a second. Back in 2019, Aleksandr Krasnykh split 1:45.3 on this relay. Russia hasn’t always trusted Ivan Girev on this relay. He was the slowest of the four splits in prelims of this relay at 2019 Worlds, and got bumped for the final. Two years later, the same exact thing happened at Euros, with Girev struggling to a 1:48.1 prelims split and not making the finals relay.
If he gets the quick hook again, Russia has several other great options. Mikhail Vekovishchev split 1:45.4 on that 2019 Worlds relay and 1:46.4 at Euros. Mikhail Dovgalyuk led off in 1:45.5 at 2019 Worlds. And 200 back world champ Evgeny Rylov has also been 1:46.5 this year.
The U.S. has some outside-the-box lineup options – and they may need them, sitting solidly fourth in aggregate times. Trials champ Kieran Smith should be a lock. Townley Haas has been a mainstay of this relay for years and split 1:45.1 at Worlds in 2019. He’s maybe best-known for a heroic 1:43.8 anchor at 2018 Pan Pacs – speed that would come very much in handy for Team USA this year.
Andrew Seliskar led off in 1:45.7 at 2019 Worlds, so he may have some room to drop from his Olympic Trials time. Haas and Drew Kibler will continue representing Texas on this relay, a long streak in American swimming.
Alternate options: Patrick Callan of Michigan is a relay-only swimmer who has to make an appearance in prelims. Zach Apple split 1:46.0 on this relay at 2019 Worlds and could be a realistic candidate to make the finals relay, though he might have a double with the 100 free semis. Blake Pieroni didn’t make the team in this event, losing to Callan by 0.08 seconds. But Pieroni (on the team for the 4×100 free relay) could be given a prelims swim here after putting up the best split on the American relay in 2019 (1:44.9).
And, of course, star sprinter Caeleb Dressel is a Hail-Mary-type option who went 1:46.6 in prelims of U.S. Trials – though he’ll have the 100 free semifinals earlier in the session. The way the field breaks down, though, Team USA might not have a lot to lose by throwing Dressel into the mix here. They’ll probably need a spark to unseat any of those top three powerhouses.
Better known for the 4×100, Brazil would be sneaky-good here. Breno Correia gave up his individual 200 free spot to focus on the 4×100 free relay – but that also means extra rest for him leading up to this race. Fernando Scheffer and Murilo Sartori will swim the individual 200 free, where we’ll get an idea of how this relays stars are swimming. Scheffer split 1:45.9 at Worlds in 2019, where Brazil finished 7th.
Japan just missed the 2019 Worlds final in 9th place, so we don’t know how much better they could have been. Katsuhiro Matsumoto is a difference-maker on a level with Scott, Dean, and Malyutin. 17-year-old Konosuke Yanagimoto is a bright young star to watch – he placed second at Japan’s Olympic Trials.
Fan favorite Kosuke Hagino is a vet who should draw a lot of excitement from the home-nation crowd, and the versatile talent has really pared down his event lineup for 2021. This should be his first event of the entire meet, keeping him completely fresh.
6th at Worlds in 2019, China is much less scary with Sun Yang (1:44.9 split) out on a doping suspension. Still, Ji Xinjie led off this relay in 1:45.4 at 2019 Worlds, so the relay should be quite a bit faster than this aggregate. Backstroker Xu Jiayu has occasionally played a role on this relay, too.
|Stefano di Cola||1:47.45|
|Marco de Tullio||1:47.83|
Italy is another one with a much higher ceiling than these flat-start times indicate. They took bronze at Euros in May (behind Russia and Great Britain). Filippo Megli led off in 1:45.8 at 2019 Worlds, and Stefano di Cola split 1:45.5 and Stefano Ballo 1:45.6. Add in a 1:46.0 split from Marco de Tullio at Euros and the aggregate looks more like 7:02-7:03
Hungary swam an off lineup at Euros and finished 15th, but don’t let that fool you. They broke their national record in 7:07.67 at Hungarian Nationals in March. Kristof Milak split a wicked 1:44.8 on that relay and Nandor Nemeth was 1:46.6. That relay featured Gabor Zombori leading off in 1:48.7, but Dominik Kozma is almost-certainly faster, even if he doesn’t get back to the 1:45.5-flat-start-level he was at in 2017.
The only issue is that 200 fly final shortly before this relay. That’s a really bad turn of scheduling for Milak, the favorite to win that 200 fly gold.
Germany should be a finals candidate here. The aggregate really isn’t accurate, as Damian Wierling doesn’t swim this much from a flat start, but split 1:47.1 on the 2019 Worlds relay. He might double with the 100 free semis, though.
France had a bunch of stellar splits at Euros, including a 1:46.3 from Jordan Pothain and a 1:46.4 from Jonathan Atsu. In fact, all four legs were between 1:46.3 and 1:46.9, though they just missed out on medals in fourth place.
TOP 8 PICKS
2019 Worlds Finish