Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Day 2 Prelims Live Recap


The action rolls on from Tokyo with the second night of Olympic swimming featuring preliminary heats in the women’s 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 400 freestyle, along with the men’s 200 free, 100 back and the 400 free relay.

After some of the sport’s biggest international stars made their debuts at the Games on Day 1, some of the top American swimmers will hop in for Day 2, including defending Olympic champions Katie Ledecky (women’s 400 free), Lilly King (women’s 100 breast) and Ryan Murphy (men’s 100 back).

We’ll also see the loaded women’s 100 back, which features the only three swimmers that have broken 58 seconds in history: world record-holder Kaylee McKeown, former world record-holder Regan Smith, and Kylie Masse, who has also held the WR previously and is the reigning two-time world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.

One of the most anticipated duels early in the program comes in the women’s 400 free, where Ledecky will take on current world #1 Ariarne Titmus, who swam a time of 3:56.90 last month, faster than all of Ledecky’s swims other than her Rio victory (3:56.46).

The men’s 200 free projects to be a wild event with a very wide open field, while the 400 free relay is always must-see TV.

Women’s 100 Backstroke – Prelims

  1. Kaylee McKeown (AUS), 57.88 OR
  2. Regan Smith (USA), 57.96
  3. Kylie Masse (CAN), 58.17
  4. Kathleen Dawson (GBR), 58.69
  5. Emily Seebohm (AUS), 58.86
  6. Rhyan White (USA), 59.02
  7. Kira Toussaint (NED), 59.21
  8. Margherita Panziera (ITA), 59.74
  9. Peng Xuwei (CHN), 59.78
  10. Maria Kameneva (RUS), 59.88
  11. Taylor Ruck (CAN), 59.89
  12. Anastasia Gorbenko (ISR), 59.90
  13. Anastasiia Fesikova (ROC), 59.92
  14. Cassie Wild (GBR), 59.99
  15. Maaike de Waard (NED), 1:00.03
  16. Anna Konishi (JPN), 1:00.04

The top-ranked swimmers in the women’s 100 backstroke wasted no time in showing off just how much faster this event has gotten since Rio, with the Olympic Record falling in three consecutive heats to open up the second prelim session.

The records came from the only three women that have broken 58 seconds in history—Kaylee McKeownRegan Smith and Kylie Masse.

Masse opened things up with a time of 58.17 in Heat 4, downing the previous Olympic Record of 58.23 set by Emily Seebohm in 2012. Smith then broke it in 57.96, and McKeown, the world record holder at 57.45, finished the event off with a third OR in 57.88.

That gives the Australian McKeown the fourth-fastest swim in history, Smith the seventh, and Masse the 15th-fastest ever. It’s also McKeown’s fourth sub-58 swim and Smith’s third, with Masse having done so once last month at the Canadian Olympic Trials.

Joining that trio under 59 seconds was Great Britain’s Kathleen Dawson (58.69) and Seebohm (58.86), both doing so from the sixth and final heat alongside McKeown. Dawson ranks fourth in the world this year, having been 58.08 when winning the European title in May, while Seebohm owns a 2021-best of 58.59.

A total of 14 women broke one minute, and the time required to make it back for the semis, 1:00.04, is more than eight-tenths quicker than it took in 2016 (1:00.89).

Anastasiya Shkurdai and Louise Hansson were both no-shows.

Men’s 200 Freestyle – Prelims

  • World Record: Paul Biedermann (GER) – 1:42.00 (2009)
  • Olympic Record: Michael Phelps (USA) – 1:42.96 (2008)
  • World Junior Record: Hwang Sun Woo (KOR) – 1:44.96 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Sun Yang (CHN) – 1:44.65
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Men’s 200 Freestyle
  1. Hwang Sunwoo (KOR), 1:44.62
  2. Fernando Scheffer (BRA), 1:45.05
  3. Tom Dean (GBR), 1:45.24
  4. David Popovici (ROU), 1:45.32
  5. Duncan Scott (GBR), 1:45.37
  6. Martin Malyutin (ROC), 1:45.50
  7. Stefano Ballo (ITA), 1:45.80
  8. Thomas Neill (AUS), 1:45.81
  9. Danas Rapsys (LTU), 1:45.84
  10. Townley Haas (USA), 1:45.86
  11. Kregor Zirk (EST), 1:46.10
  12. Nandor Nemeth (HUN), 1:46.19
  13. Kieran Smith (USA), 1:46.20
  14. Velimir Stjepanovic (SRB), 1:46.26
  15. Antonio Djakovic (SUI), 1:46.37
  16. Stefano Di Cola (ITA), 1:46.67

South Korea’s Hwang Sunwoo asserted himself as the man to beat in the first round of the men’s 200 freestyle, blasting his way to a new World Junior Record of 1:44.62 in the first circle-seeded heat on Sunday night in Tokyo.

The 18-year-old went out fast, flipping in 50.12 at the 100, with Great Britain’s Tom Dean and USA’s Townley Haas close behind. Hwang opened up a bit of gap with a sub-27 third 50 split (26.89), and then held things at bay coming home. His time was the only sub-1:45 of the prelims, and also lowers the South Korean Record of 1:44.80 previously held by Park Tae Hwan.

Hwang’s previous WJR was 1:44.96, set earlier this year. He moves up from 18th to 11th on the all-time performers list.

Dean (1:45.24) put up a solid time to take second in the heat, ultimately qualifying third overall into the semis.

Brazilian Fernando Scheffer took the second circle-seeded heat by storm, touching first in a new South American Record of 1:45.05 for second overall. That improves Scheffer’s previous South American and Brazilian Records of 1:45.51, set in 2018.

World #1 Duncan Scott took second to Scheffer in that heat in 1:45.37, good for fifth overall, while Australia’s Thomas Neill (1:45.81) held off Danas Rapsys (1:45.84) in the last heat.

16-year-old Romanian David Popovici was right on his personal-best form in Heat 2, clocking 1:45.32, just .06 off his National Record of 1:45.26, to easily qualify fourth overall.

Katsuhiro Matsumoto, the fourth seed coming in, ends up tying with Germany’s Lukas Märtens for 17th in 1:46.69, meaning he’ll miss out on the semis barring a scratch.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke – Prelims

  1. Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA), 1:04.82 OR
  2. Lydia Jacoby (USA), 1:05.52
  3. Lilly King (USA), 1:05.55
  4. Sophie Hansson (SWE), 1:05.66
  5. Martina Carraro (ITA), 1:05.85
  6. Evgeniia Chikunova (ROC), 1:06.16
  7. Ida Hulkko (FIN), 1:06.19
  8. Yuliya Efimova (ROC), 1:06.21
  9. Mona McSharry (IRL), 1:06.39
  10. Tang Qianting (CHN), 1:06.47
  11. Sarah Vasey (GBR), 1:06.61
  12. Chelsea Hodges (AUS), 1:06.70
  13. Lisa Mamie (SUI), 1:06.76
  14. Eneli Jefimova (EST), 1:06.79
  15. Kotryna Teterevkova (LTU), 1:06.82
  16. Anna Elendt (GER), 1:06.96

South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker absolutely destroyed the African Record to lead the women’s 100 breaststroke heats by seven tenths of a second, clocking 1:04.82 in what was also a new Olympic Record.

Schoenmaker, 24, takes down her previous Continental and National Records of 1:05.74, set earlier this year, and lowers Lilly King‘s Olympic Record of 1:04.93 set in 2016.

Known more her prowess in the 200 breast, Schoenmaker rockets up the all-time rankings from 17th to fifth in the 100 with her swim.

King won a tightly-contested final heat in 1:05.55, looking around throughout the heat, while her American teammate Lydia Jacoby led the first circle-seeded heat in 1:05.52 as they qualify 2-3 for the semis.

Jacoby was just off her best time of 1:05.28, set at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.

Sophie Hansson chopped .03 off her Swedish Record in 1:05.66, and Ida Hulkko broke her Finnish Record in 1:06.19.

The sixth seed coming in, Italy’s 16-year-old standout Benedetta Pilato was disqualified.

Men’s 100 Backstroke – Prelims

  1. Kliment Kolesnikov (ROC), 52.15
  2. Thomas Ceccon (ITA), 52.49
  3. Xu Jiayu (CHN), 52.70
  4. Mitch Larkin (AUS), 52.97
  5. Ryosuke Irie (JPN), 52.99
  6. Yohann Ndoye Brouard (FRA), 53.13
  7. Ryan Murphy (USA) / Evgeny Rylov (ROC), 53.22
  8. Hugo Gonzalez (ESP), 53.45
  9. Mewen Tomac (FRA), 53.49
  10. Guilherme Guido (BRA), 53.65
  11. Robert Glinta (ROU), 53.67
  12. Isaac Cooper (aus), 53.73
  13. Marek Ulrich (GER), 53.74
  14. Hunter Armstrong (USA) / Apostolos Christou (GRE), 53.77

Kliment Kolesnikov let it all hang out in his first-ever Olympic swim, flipping in a scorching 24.89 in Heat 5 of the men’s 100 backstroke before closing in 27.26 for a final time of 52.15.

That showing falls six one-hundredths shy of the Russian’s unofficial best time, 52.09, set on a mixed medley relay lead-off at the European Championships. His official PB is 52.13, narrowly missing that, along with the Russian Record of 52.12 held by Evgeny Rylov.

Including mixed relay lead-offs, Kolensikov’s time in the prelims is the 14th-fastest swim ever.

Taking second to Kolesnikov in Heat 5 was 20-year-old Thomas Ceccon, who lowered his Italian Record of 52.84 in 52.49 to qualify second overall into the semis. Ceccon was the only swimmer in the field to come home sub-27 (26.86).

That fifth heat was the fastest overall with four of the five sub-53s coming out of it, as Mitch Larkin (52.97) and Ryosuke Irie (52.99) advance in fourth and fifth.

China’s Xu Jiayu led the first circle-seeded heat in 52.70, qualifying third, while France’s Yohann Ndoye Brouard (53.13) won the last heat for sixth.

Defending champion Ryan Murphy and top seed Evgeny Rylov tied for second in that final heat in 53.22, advancing in a tie for seventh.

Murphy’s American teammate Hunter Armstrong and Greece’s Apostolos Christou narrowly got into the semis, tying in 53.77 for 15th, while Luke Greenbank and Simone Sabbioni tied for 17th in 53.79 and will miss out.

Women’s 400 Freestyle – Prelims

  1. Katie Ledecky (USA), 4:00.45
  2. Li Bingjie (CHN), 4:01.57
  3. Ariarne Titmus (AUS), 4:01.66
  4. Erika Fairweather (NZL), 4:02.28
  5. Summer McIntosh (CAN), 4:02.72
  6. Isabel Gose (GER), 4:03.21
  7. Paige Madden (USA), 4:03.98
  8. Tang Muhan (CHN), 4:04.07

Defending Olympic champion Katie Ledecky looked strong in claiming the top seed for the final of the women’s 400 freestyle, making her way through the third heat in a time of 4:00.45 to qualify first by over a second.

The time for Ledecky is notably faster than she was in last month’s Olympic Trials final (4:01.27), a positive sign in her first swim of the meet.

Pursuing Ledecky in the heat was China’s Li Bingjie, who made up nine tenths on the American over the final 100 to finish in a time of 4:01.57, dipping under her Asian Record of 4:01.75 set in 2017.

The world’s fastest swimmer this year, Ariarne Titmus touched first in Heat 4 in 4:01.66, advancing to the final with the third spot, with fellow Oceanian Erika Fairweather hot on her tail in 4:02.28.

Fairweather, a native of New Zealand, dropped four seconds from her best time to take down the Kiwi Record of 4:03.63, set by Lauren Boyle back in 2012.

Fairweather is just 17, and another teenager, Canadian Summer McIntosh also broke a National Record.

The 14-year-old dropped almost two and a half seconds from her lifetime best in 4:02.72, breaking Brittany Maclean‘s Canadian Record of 4:03.43 set in 2016. Maclean and McIntosh share the swim home club, Etobicoke Swimming.

In sixth, a third National Record fell at the hands of 19-year-old Isabel Gose, as her time of 4:03.21 breaks the German Record of 4:03.96 previously held by Sarah Kohler (2017). Gose advances sixth into the final.

Men’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay – Prelims

  • World Record: USA (Phelps, Weber-Gale, Jones, Lezak) – 3:08.24 (2008)
  • Olympic Record: USA (Phelps, Weber-Gale, Jones, Lezak) – 3:08.24 (2008)
  • World Junior Record: USA (Magahey, Urlando, Chaney, Foster) – 3:15.80 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: USA (Dressel, Phelps, Held, Adrian) – 3:09.92
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Men’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay
  1. Italy, 3:10.29
  2. United States, 3:11.33
  3. Australia, 3:11.89
  4. France, 3:12.35
  5. Brazil, 3:12.59
  6. Hungary, 3:12.73
  7. Canada, 3:13.00
  8. ROC, 3:13.13

The Italian men staked their claim as the team to beat in the 400 free relay, dropping a sizzling time of 3:10.29 to qualify first for the final by over a second.

Breaking their existing National Record of 3:11.39, Italy was the only nation to keep all four swimmers sub-48, led by Alessandro Miressi coming within .01 of his Italian Record on the lead-off leg in 47.46.

Santo Condorelli (47.90), Lorenzo Zazzeri (47.29) and Manuel Frigo (47.64) closed things off, as Italy will be tough to beat for anyone in the final.

France took second to the Italians in Heat 1, clocking 3:12.35 with a notable 47.41 split from Maxime Grousset. Brazil and the Russians (ROC) were the other teams advancing from the opening heat, putting up times of 3:12.59 and 3:13.13, respectively. Marcelo Chierighini (47.34) was the lone sub-48 split for the Brazilians, and Andrei Minakov (47.48) was the only 47 for ROC.

The defending champion United States won Heat 2 in a time of 3:11.33, receiving a trio of 47-second splits from Blake Pieroni (47.71), Bowe Becker (47.59) and Zach Apple (47.19). Expect those three to remain on the final relay and be joined by Caeleb Dressel.

Australia was close behind in 3:11.89, with Kyle Chalmers ripping a scorching 46.63 anchor leg, and the Hungarians (3:12.73) and Canadians (3:13.00) also made the final from the second heat. Nandor Nemeth anchored in 47.46 for Hungary, while Joshua Liendo (47.67) and Yuri Kisil (47.78) produced strong legs for Canada.

Great Britain was the most noteworthy team to miss the final, opting not to use Duncan Scott, who had the 200 free prelims. Joe Litchfield‘s 49.41 split was their undoing, and even a 47.50 from Jacob Whittle wasn’t enough to advance them.

Among the other teams, Stan Pijnenburg had an impressive 47.35 split for the Dutch, Andrej Barna was 47.50 for Serbia, and Jakub Kraska brought Poland home in 47.68.

Men’s 200 Free Swim-Off

  1. Katsuhiro Matsumoto (JPN), 1:46.06
  2. Lukas Märtens (GER), 1:46.40

Matsumoto and Märtens both went faster than their 1:46.69 preliminary in the swim-off, with Matsumoto’s early aggression paying off as he opened up a one-second lead after 50 meters and held on by three tenths in 1:46.06.

We’ll wait and see if this was simply a race for first alternate, or if a scratch will move Matsumoto into the semis.

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2 years ago

What was the call on benedetta pilato?

Reply to  Xman
2 years ago

I don’t know the official call, but on the underwater shots of the race, she fluttered her right foot on both the start and turn during underwater pullouts

Reply to  Xman
2 years ago

Nevermind found it. I actually called it when watching the replay (watch her kick immediately after the pull-out on the way back)

The surprise of the fourth heat was a disqualification, with Benedetta Pilato of Italy getting sanctioned for foot movements not on the same plane. The Italian holds the world junior record in the 50 breaststroke

2 years ago

Very safe relay exchanges for the US and Zapple definitely shut it down the last 10 meters. Predicting a massive world record for team USA in the relay tonight. Prediction:
Dressel 46.80
Pieroni 47.19
Becker 47.43
Zapple 46.77
Time: 3:08.19 WR

Reply to  David
2 years ago

No way Dressel is a 46.8. I think that’s reasonable for the individual, but he is dependably a little slow to get started at his taper meets. If he’s going 46.8 this week, he’ll probably be 47.1 or 47.2 on the relay.

Reply to  Jack
2 years ago

Or 46.8 tonight and 46.5 individual 😀

Reply to  dresselgoat
2 years ago

Lol. I’d love to find myself eating those words. But he’s only very very close to being superhuman; not quite there.

2 years ago

Katie has to swim finals “tonight” like a kitten being pulled up from her neck! 🙂

2 years ago

They have to pull Van Dyken out of there. Yikes. Look at this. Look at that. Everything so beautiful. Nice finger tip touch. I can read everything about a swimmer based on their facial expression after they finish. Yada yada yada

Reply to  SCCOACH
2 years ago

She’s far from perfect, but infinitely better than “reaction time”, “breathing to his right”, name-mangling Ambrose.

Reply to  Stewie
2 years ago

I disagree. She repeats same thing over and over from heat to heat, way worse than Rowdy. She’s like Rowdy on tons of caffeine

Last edited 2 years ago by SCCOACH
Reply to  Stewie
2 years ago

No she isn’t. At least Rowdy can occasionally bring some decent insight, quirks, and entertainment. She brings nothing.

Reply to  HJones
2 years ago

Rowdy hasn’t brought a decent insight in 20 years. It’s nothing but “I was just talking with x’s coach, the legendary y, and ….”.

2 years ago

poopy is back

2 years ago

Murphy was using low energy for the heats.

2 years ago

TO take 1/2 of all medals in day 1 really does bode well for TEAM USA! I was expecting a somewhat lackluster 1st day with TEAM USA building the daily medal count as we work thru 8 days of swimming. Thankfully I was wrong — AND THE VERY FIRST SWIM with the 400 IM had my household SHOUTING and I do mean full-throated, Texas hollering!
Bravi – TEAM USA!

Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

USA next to France in the men’s relay final. We meet again! 😆

Honestly with Becker, Apple and Pieroni swimming so well in prelims added to Russian swimmers almost missing the final I don’t see what can prevent USA from winning the gold with Dressel entering the team and leading off that relay in 47.2/47.3.
I don’t see Russia able to drop more than 3 seconds in final. Even with Kolesnikov. By the way Kolesnikov will have the 100 back semis before in the same session. No, everything looks great for US men.
Then a good fight between Italy, Russia and Australia for the other medals. Russia will probably try something in lane 8 by going out very… Read more »

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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