Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Day 2 Finals Preview

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

The first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics provided an exciting onslaught of races including the men’s 400 free and women’s 4×100 free along with both 400 IMs.

Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland demonstrated American dominance in the 400 IM by pulling off a 1-2 finish while Yui Ohashi earned gold on home soil in the women’s version. We saw an incredible display of outside smoke in Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia who won gold in the 400 freestyle from lane 8 just hours after becoming the nation’s second-ever Olympic finalist. Things wrapped up with the meet’s first world record as the Australian women stunned the field with their 3:29.69 4×100 freestyle.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into day 2.

The first event of the evening will be the women’s 100 butterfly final and there are almost too many storylines to keep track of. Reigning Olympic champion and world record holder Sarah Sjostrom will be racing from lane 6, hoping to pick up her first Olympic medal of the met and leave her broken elbow in the past. 2019 World Champion Maggie MacNeil is right next to Sjostrom in lane 7 as she tried to get back under 56 seconds and make her way onto the podium.

Women’s 100 Butterfly Final

Zhang Yufei was the top seed going into the event and has thus far done what she needs in order to gun for gold. She swam the only sub 56 time during semi-finals and will once again go in as top seed. in the final. The closest woman to her so far was Emma McKeon who tied her during prelims with a 55.82 Oceanian record. McKeon fell to a 56.33 for third during semis but will still be in the fight.

One of the wild cards here is French swimmer Marie Wattel who seemingly came out of nowhere during semis with a 56.16 national record. Wattel successfully got her name into the ring for the podium but will likely need to be even faster than she was in round 2 considering the potential for 55s in the field. Rounding out the final here is US swimmer Torri Huske who already has the experience and the times to make it on the podium, along with a duo of women who will need a big swim in order to challenge for a top 3 finish in Sweden’s Louise Hansson and Belarus’ Anastasiya Shkurdai.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke Final

The second final of the session is less up in the air in terms of who we expect to win. Adam Peaty is the fastest man in history a dozen times over and nearly never loses. He’s been a 56.88 before in the event and comes in as defending Olympic and world champion. It’s Peaty’s race to lose and the real battle here will be for second.

Not only will the final feature the fastest-ever 100 breaststroker, but it will also feature the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th fastest men in the history of the event. Arno Kamminga is #2 and recently went from a 57.90 PB to a 57.80, giving him a slight edge over the field of 58s. After Peaty and Kamminga, there are 4 men who lie within a fraction of a second of each other. Michael Andrew has been right on the cusp of the 58 barrier, having hit a 58.14 earlier this year while Ilya Shymanovich and Nicolo Martinenghi each hold a 58.46 from 2019 and 2021, respectively. Peaty’s compatriot James Wilby isn’t far off with his 58.46 from 2 years ago and all 4 will be in the final, fighting to give Kamminga a run for his money.

The final 2 men in the mix tonight are China’s Yan Zibei who notched a 58.72 in the semis for 4th overall keeping him very much in the mix and American Andrew Wilson who got in with a 59.18 semi swim for 8th.

Women’s 400 Freestyle Final

The third individual final will be the women’s 400 freestyle and there’s a lot on the line for many women in the field.

Can Katie Ledecky do what she does often and collect Olympic gold, or has her time (at least in the 400 freestyle) come? She was the fastest prelims swimmer in the event but didn’t manage to dip under 4:00 and was a few seconds over her 3:56.46 PB from 2016. She will likely need to be at or better than world record pace from the start considering that Australian Ariarne Titmus already has a 3:56 in the books, courtesy of her 3:56.90 at Aussie Trials in June.

As the Titmus v. Ledecky battle has brewed, Li Bingjie of China has emerged to assert herself as a frontrunner to medal in the 400 free. Bingjie will swim in the final as second seed to Ledecky, having hit a 4:01.57 during prelims which is just over a second slower than Ledecky’s leading 4:00.45. That heats swim for Bingjie was a new Asian record and personal so while she’s still in the mix, she will likely need to shave another few seconds off her time to keep up with the leading duo.

Along with the pair of 4:01s in Titmus and Bingjie, we saw a pair of 4:02s during the prelims from New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather (4:02.28) and Canada’s Summer McIntosh (4:02.72). Both of those times marked new national records and qualified the women for their first-ever Olympic finals. Notably, 5th seed McIntosh is debuting at only 14 years old, meaning that if she can improve upon her 5th place seed by just a bit she could become one of the youngest Olympic medalists of all time.

Men’s 4×100 Freestyle Final

Caeleb Dressel (photo: Jack Spitser)

The Italian men went after it during prelims, throwing down a combined time of 3:10.29 which was quicker than both the United States (3:11.33) and Australia (3:11.89). While a top seed would certainly be a confidence boost for the Italians, they can’t get too comfortable yet considering that the Americans have yet to add golden boy Dressel to their relay lineup.

Another important sub to note that we expect to see tonight is Kliment Kolesnikov on the Russian relay. The Russians nearly missed the final with a 3:13.13 for 8th place during prelims but with the addition of 47.30 swimmer Kolesnikov, along with any combination of Evgeny Rylov, Ivan Girev, Andrey Zhilkin (who didn’t race prelims), and prelims swimmers Andrei Minakov, Vlad Morozov, Aleksandr Shchegole, and Vlad Grinev could be back in the mix for a top 3 finish.

12 medals will be given out during day 3 finals but that only accounts for half of the races that we will be treated to during the session. Along with the finals, swimmers will take to the pool in 4 sets of semi-finals: the men’s 200 freestyle, women’s 100 breaststroke, men’s 100 back, and women’s 100 back.

Day 2 Semi-Finals Quick Hits

  • Hwang Sun-Woo leads the pack here, having hit a 1:44.62 world junior record during prelims as the only 1:44 swimmer thus far in the field. He’s joined by a 9-man pack of 1:45s meaning there will be no room for error should one wish to advance to round 3.
  • Tatjana Schoenmaker threw down a 1:04.82 Olympic record to slightly upset defending champ Lilly King (1:05.55). King certainly has time to catch up to Schoenmaker here but will also need to be on the watch for up-and-coming teammate Lydia Jacoby who was a 1:05.52 for 2nd in the heats.
  • Like King, American backstroker Ryan Murphy was slightly off form with a 53.22 100 backstroke which was only fast enough for 8th place in the prelims. Russian superstar Kliment Kolesnikov was a full second faster, hitting a 52.15 for 1st as Thomas Ceccon (52.49), Xu Jiayu (52.70), Mitch Larkin (52.97), and more staked their claim for advancement.
  • The golden trio of Kylie Masse, Regan Smith, and Kaylee McKeown each lowered the women’s 100 backstroke Olympic record during the prelims 1 after another. McKeown kept the record with a 57.88 compared to Masse’s 58.17 and Smith’s 57.96. The only other women under 59 were Great Britain’s Dawson and Australia’s Seebohm, meaning that semis will be an absolute bloodbath as the field chases that leading quintet.

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beachmouse
1 month ago

Dear Federations that left swimmers with A standards home because ‘they wouldn’t be competing for a medal anyways’- Ahmed Hafnaoui is waving at you from the top of an Olympic podium because his Federation was more than glad to bring anyone with an A cut.

NJones
Reply to  beachmouse
1 month ago

I realize full well that individual federations cannot be mandated who/how many athletes to bring. However perhaps there are ways to entice as much top16 or Fina A participation as possible from Fina etc to get all of the best swimmers there. To make a semi should be ‘tough’ and honorable, a final even ‘tougher’ and more celebrated, etc. Just because you’re not a clear cut ‘medal threat’ shouldn’t preclude your federation from deeming you not worthy of selection. I’d like to see semis, and some here are, just cutthroat battles to get to the final to keep upping their entertainment value.

Last edited 1 month ago by NJones
Steve Nolan
Reply to  beachmouse
1 month ago

hey let’s not give anyone any ideas. the US already brings as many athletes as they can, adding more swimmers with A cuts can only be bad for the US medal count

(your point is 100% correct though)

Gaby
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Plenty to bash the US about but WAY off base here. US won 12 of 13 men’s events in 1976 and swept podium in several. Immediately (one cycle) teams could no longer bring 3 per event in swimming, only two. Contrast with track and many other sports which still allow three.

So… US medal count (which is a stat I couldn’t care less about) has been disadvantaged by the rules, not aided. Plenty of GREAT gold medal silver medal and bronze medal contenders have stayed home over the years because of the rule change that limited teams to two swimmers, not three. Again, criticize US all you want, but IN THIS CASE you don’t know the history. (Guarantee Braden… Read more »

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Gaby
1 month ago

My goofy post there was regarding how I do not want other countries to bring their athletes that have A cuts because they might beat US swimmers, thus decreasing the number medals the US wins. Because I am a fan of the US.

This has nothing to do with the number of swimmers a country is able to enter in a single event, but thank you for your input.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Nolan
Gaby
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

We’ll we’re both fans of the US so we have that in common. I may have misinterpreted regarding medal count comment. The point I’m making is there are (over the years) DOZENS (perhaps) of third-place trials finishers in US (and other countries) who could SURPRISE like Hafnaoui did, but because of rule change never got that chance to medal. Prior to rule change, they would have. And it was altered back then to hurt the US. Now there are swimmers from other countries who might similarly be affected. AUS women this week, for example. Plausible that they have a 3rd place trials finisher who could medal here in 50 or 100 free but (because of rule change) won’t get to… Read more »

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Gaby
1 month ago

Yeah I think it’s something that’s worth looking at, but given how tilted the medal counts are already towards a handful of countries I doubt there would be much of a push to change it.

People have mentioned having “wildcard” spots for a third entry for a country if that third swimmer is sufficiently highly ranked in that event, which might be the best way to do it.

That said, if the US was able to bring an extra swimmer per event I doubt it’d really create more Hafnaoui-like upsets. He did really come out of nowhere. (Which now that I’m thinking about it, may be a Covid-related thing more than anything.)

leisurely1:29
Reply to  beachmouse
1 month ago

Except Mellouli…

Joel Lin
Reply to  beachmouse
1 month ago

A real question: does Ahmed get paid now?

Also in the news today is the government of Tunisia was vacated earlier this afternoon. President removed the Prime Minister & dismissed their parliamentary branch of government.

So maybe USC this fall? Ahmed, come out the the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…

Last edited 1 month ago by Joel Lin
DCC Parent
Reply to  Joel Lin
1 month ago

Props for the John MacLane reference

Bill G
Reply to  beachmouse
1 month ago

I like this comment very much. It should be put on a T-shirt or something!

DLswim
Reply to  beachmouse
1 month ago

Comment of the day.

John26
1 month ago

I’ve been very pro Titmus beating Ledecky the last month and will be rooting for her, but I gotta say Ledecky did look a bit easier in the prelims, not sure how others feel

Idc
Reply to  John26
1 month ago

Never doubt the goat

T S
Reply to  John26
1 month ago

Yeah, Ledecky didnt look all that out of breath but titmus looked absolutely gassed to me

M d e
Reply to  T S
1 month ago

Titmus did not look absolutely gassed. That’s a crazy take.

Ledecky looked easier in my opinion also, but look =/= reality necessarily.

Both did what they needed to in the heat. Now we see what happens. Should be a good one.

T S
Reply to  M d e
1 month ago

Lol did you see her face after? She looked asthmatic, especially compared to how ledecky looked after

lmao wow
Reply to  T S
1 month ago

Lol this is just cringe dude

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  T S
1 month ago

Aged like bad milk

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  M d e
1 month ago

Aged like fine wine

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  T S
1 month ago

Aged like milk

The Real AJC
Reply to  John26
1 month ago

Rooting for Ledecky, but Titmus always seems to have the most improvement between prelims and finals so I still expect her to win.

Philip Johnson
Reply to  John26
1 month ago

I’ve been told over and over this was a done deal, Ledecky was washed, Titmus is the new queen, etc, etc. Not sure what will happen, but never count out Ledecky.

Robbos
Reply to  Philip Johnson
1 month ago

I don’t think Titmus or her team ever said this, i know as an Aussie fan, I’ve never said this.
Always been that Ariane needs to beat WR to beat Ledecky.
It’s the small minority of Americans who are saying Titmus is gassed, Titmus will choke, Titmus won’t repeat time in trials.

Like I have always said, I want best swimmer to win.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Philip Johnson
1 month ago

Sure

GTS
Reply to  John26
1 month ago

Finals have been slower than anticipated. I don’t think Titmus will replicate her performances from last month. I think both Ledecky and Titmus will dip under 3:58, and it will be close. My big question about this race is if we can get a third swimmer under the 4:00 barrier? That would really help in the evolution of this event, especially if it’s a young swimmer.

Oceanian
Reply to  GTS
1 month ago

I imagine the Commonwealth teens may have swum their bests in the heats, but the Chinese could certainly go sub-4 in the final.

Coach
Reply to  Oceanian
1 month ago

I will be pleasantly surprised if Ledecky gets under 3:58, and I hope she does.

I do think, however, that we have focused so much on the top two that Li could surprise us.

Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
1 month ago

Dressel either goes 47 low or goes 46.7. If he goes 46 we are in for a wild ride this week

Idc
Reply to  Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
1 month ago

Dressel is typically on the slower side at this point in the meet/this relay so I would be shocked to see a 46

Comet
Reply to  Idc
1 month ago

I think he needs to be 47.3 to get the us team out front in open water

Idc
Reply to  Comet
1 month ago

I think he will definitely be faster than trials here just not under 47

T S
Reply to  Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
1 month ago

yeah I wouldnt be surprised if he lead off in a WR, and then broke it again later on. Id be willing to bet on at least breaking 47

PenguinMan
Reply to  T S
1 month ago

he went 47.5 in relay lead off before going 46.9 in finals

PenguinMan
Reply to  PenguinMan
1 month ago

on second thought though, he might actually try 100% to get US relay a gold because the field is gonna be tight

Michael Andrew vs. Covid
1 month ago

Michael Andrew will BREAK WORLD RECORD

Dressel will come 3rd in 100 free
Reply to  Michael Andrew vs. Covid
1 month ago

But not today, and not in the 100m breast

Michael Andrew vs. Covid

Finally someone GETS IT!

Coach
Reply to  Michael Andrew vs. Covid
1 month ago

You should change your name to Michael Andrew vs. Twitter Maya.

Last edited 1 month ago by Coach
He said what?
Reply to  Michael Andrew vs. Covid
1 month ago

he’s not medaling. As usual, he gets slower.

Swimfan2021
Reply to  Michael Andrew vs. Covid
1 month ago

Yes he will, in medley relay going 59.1 in breast, other 3 52.0, 48.9, 47.1, easy

Stephen
Reply to  Michael Andrew vs. Covid
1 month ago

Fastest COVID breaststroke swimmer ever

Wow
1 month ago

Emma can sneakily grab that 100 Fly gold medal.

Nick
Reply to  Wow
1 month ago

Knowing what’s happened lately Hansson and Skurdrai will win medals

Joel
Reply to  Wow
1 month ago

Yes! She’s first in my pickems . I have faith.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Wow
1 month ago

I put a bunch of money down on her at +500 a couple weeks ago and still feel good about it.

But I also just bet on Maggie MacNeil who is +2000 right now, because I mean, she has a WAY better than a 5% chance of winning.

Taa
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

I like your optimism. Bet on Emma to win and also medal

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

WHATUP GUYS I’M RICH NOW

Joel Lin
Reply to  Wow
1 month ago

I pick the kiddo. Torri can put it together. Let’s go Torri.

Charge
1 month ago

USA holds off the Russians and Italians , Dressel goes 46.93 to lead off
The Italians forget to shave their mustaches and miss out on silver by .01

nope
Reply to  Charge
1 month ago

alternatively, the italians go the good ol mark spitz “my mustache helps reduce drag” route and… win gold by .01

Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

“16 medals will be given out during day 3 finals”

16 medals? Are you sure SwimSwam?

4 finals x 3 medals = 12 medals

Idc
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

Actually nobody knows the exact amount of physical medals give because of the relay and prelim swimmers.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Idc
1 month ago

Don’t be ridiculous.

SwimSwam has already corrected from 16 medals to 12 medals.

lmao wow
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

what a lame response. yes we get it you caught a mistake.

jim
Reply to  Idc
1 month ago

Nobody knows the exact number of medals because there may be ties for 3rd, or even 3 way ties for 2nd.

Joel
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

I thought same. Thought I missed something but then 16 is not divisible by 3 anyway. Maybe lots of dead heats lol.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

Actually everyone’s wrong, because relays.

Idc
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Excuse you… everybody?

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Idc
1 month ago

Ya even the IOC doesn’t know, they’ve been just leaving the medals out on a table with a “PLEASE JUST TAKE ONE” sign.

Idc
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

No you said everybody’s wrong, despite me saying we actually don’t know.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Idc
1 month ago

I’m in North Carolina right now, these comments take years to load. I might as well be on the moon.

Meow
1 month ago

I don’t doubt Torri Huske’s abilities here, but I think it’s weird to point out her experience, especially given the other women in the field. Isn’t this her first senior international meet?

Hswimmer
Reply to  Meow
1 month ago

Yes

Idc
Reply to  Meow
1 month ago

I guess they meant with going 55? Which would be a weird way to phrase it especially bc they mentioned times in the next sentence.

Comet
Reply to  Meow
1 month ago

Definitely but she left her best form in Omaha.