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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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
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.