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
- SwimSwam Event Previews
- Entry Lists
- Live Results
- Day 5 Finals Heat Sheet
Haven’t done your homework? Cram for tonight’s Day 5 Olympic Swimming Finals with our quick-hitting session preview:
Men’s 800 Free Final
Someone will become the first-ever Olympic gold medalist in the men’s 800 free – and there are several good candidates and not too much clarity heading into the final.
Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk is the top seed into the final after smashing a national record in 7:41.28 in the heats. But he’s got distance/open water star Florian Wellbrock of Germany only about a half-second back and swimming one lane over.
While this race remains one of the most super-suit affected – with a 7:32 world record that might be among the most unapproachable of any event left on the books – tonight’s final will feature three of the top eleven performers of all-time. Most of the top swims in history have come in the 2000s, including Zhang Lin’s world record and sub-7:40 swims by Ous Mellouli (2009), Grant Hackett (2005) and Ian Thorpe (2001). And Sun Yang (7:38 in 2011) is out on a doping suspension.
That leaves Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy as the fastest active swimmer in the field. He went 7:39.27 in 2019, but is dealing with mononucleosis this summer and barely scraped into the final in 8th. He’ll swim from an outside lane.
Romanchuk is the #8 performer of all-time. Wellbrock is #11.
Men’s 200 Breast Final
In contrast, the men’s 200 breast shapes up to be a battle of the top two swimmers of all-time, perhaps with the world record as an add-on to gold.
Russia’s Anton Chupkov has won every major gold this Olympic cycle: World Championships in 2017, European Championships in 2018, Worlds again in 2019, and Euros again in 2021. That all comes after an Olympic bronze back in 2016 at the age of 19. Chupkov is the world record-holder, but he’s also struggled so far in Tokyo and qualified just 7th out of semifinals.
He’ll have the outside-smoke opportunity from lane 1 – and don’t count him out until the finish, because he’s basically looked out of the hunt with 50 to go at both 2019 Worlds and 2020 Euros, and he closed hard to win both races.
Technical swimming nerds (the author among them) will want to keep an eye on Chupkov’s underwater pullouts, where he’s famously eschewed traditional streamlines, though his underwaters looked a lot more orthodox at Euros in May.
Australia’s Zac Stubblety-Cook moved to #2 all-time with a big swim at Australian Olympic Trials, and he’ll hold the top spot into this final. Watch Dutch speedster Arno Kamminga and British talent James Wilby to push the pace early, as both Stubblety-Cook and Chupkov are more known as closers in this event.
Women’s 200 Fly Final
It’s been a tough showing for China in the pool at these Olympics, with just two medals so far in the absence of star distance man Sun Yang. Without Sun in the mix, China’s top swimmer is probably Zhang Yufei, who has her best gold opportunity in the 200 fly tonight.
Zhang moved into the top 10 in history with a huge semifinals 2:04.89. That’s especially impressive considering half of the top 10 are from the super-suit era. Zhang was also fast in the 100 fly heats and semis, and managed to go almost a half-second faster in the final, though she could only bag silver. She’s got a great chance to push into the low-2:04s tonight.
Americans Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith will chase her on one side. Flickinger was the 2019 World Champs silver medalist in this race and won bronze in the 400 IM earlier this week. Smith is the 100 back bronze medalist and a star backstroker – though she’s struggled a little more in her best events, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a young swimmer have a blowup swim in an “off” event where perhaps she’s not feeling the same amount of Olympic-spotlight pressure.
Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas beat Flickinger for 2019 Worlds gold, and she shouldn’t be counted out either. She’s on the other side of Zhang in lane 3.
Men’s 100 Free Final
This should be one of the highlights of the entire Olympic Games. We’ve already seen two massive showdowns between the best swimmers from Australia and the U.S. – and so far, Australia’s Ariarne Titmus has won both over American Katie Ledecky.
In the 100 free, it’s 2016 Olympic champ Kyle Chalmers representing Australia and 2017/2019 World champ Caeleb Dressel representing the United States. The two have gone head-to-head multiple times, and the races have never failed to entertain. Here’s a look at their showdowns in top-level international meets over the past five years:
|Kyle Chalmers||Meet||Caeleb Dressel|
|1st – 47.58||2016 Olympics||6th – 48.02|
|N/A – heart surgery||2017 Worlds||1st – 47.17|
|1st – 48.00||2018 Pan Pacs||3rd – 48.22|
|2nd – 47.08||2019 Worlds||1st – 46.96|
Swimming head-to-head, Chalmers has won twice to Dressel’s one, but Dressel’s win was more recent, and also the fastest time for either man. Both have had some inconsistency in health – Chalmers withdrew from 2017 Worlds to have heart surgery, and Dressel struggled in 2018 after lingering injuries from a motorcycle crash. The 2019 Worlds final was the first time both men really put it together in the same race, and it resulted in two of the top six swims in history.
Both appear fully healthy this week. Dressel went a field-best 47.26 leading off the 4×100 free relay; Chalmers split a field-best 46.44 from a flying start while anchoring Australia. The stage is set for some massive fireworks, with both men in striking distance of a 46.91 world record that has stood since 2009.
If you’re watching with some non-swimmer friends, feel free to read this whole segment word for word and pretend it’s your own analysis. If you really want to look smart, tell everyone not to make any calls about who has won the race until the touch. Dressel has the best start-plus-breakout in the world, arguably in world history. But Chalmers has consistently hit the best second-50 split of anybody in world history in this race. So Dressel should jump out to a lead, and it’ll really come down to whether Chalmers can run down Dressel over the final 15 meters or so.
At the risk of making this segment 1000 words on its own, we should also note a few outsiders who could break up the Dressel-v-Chalmers storyline. Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov is the 100 back silver medalist and beat both Dressel and Chalmers in the semis with a stellar 47.11 – that’s the #9 swim of all-time.
16-year-old David Popovici is the world junior record-holder and was the world leader coming into this meet with a 47.30 from the European Junior Championships. 18-year-old Hwang Sun-woo of Korea could also challenge that world junior record after going 47.56 in semis.
Women’s 4×200 Free Relay Final
Australia has a bead on the world record here, carrying in two finalists from the individual 200 free earlier this week, including the gold medalist Ariarne Titmus. If she leads off, we could see Titmus challenge her own Olympic record of 1:53.50, or even the world record of 1:52.98.
With 17-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan smashing a 1:55.11 leadoff leg in heats, Australia should be primed for a massive swim. 100 fly bronze medalist Emma McKeon (also the 100 free favorite who will swim semis in this session) was 1:54.7 in-season, and Australia has plenty of options for their fourth leg.
It should be the United States, China and Canada battling for silver and bronze in a game of musical chairs in which one nation will be left off the podium. The U.S. got a boost this morning when Paige Madden split 1:55.9 and Katie McLaughlin 1:56.0 – they should pair with 2016 Olympic champ Katie Ledecky and 2012 Olympic champ Allison Schmitt.
Canada finished a distant fourth in heats, but they very much swam their “B” lineup and should add lots of fully-rested heavy hitters tonight. Penny Oleksiak was the bronze medalist in the 200 free, and 14-year-old Summer McIntosh is a rising force who was 5th coming out of heats and just barely missed the final.
China would probably need to switch up their lineup significantly to challenge Canada or the U.S., and that would require making Yang Junxuan double with the 100 free and/or Zhang Yufei double with the 200 fly. Beyond them, Li Bingjie is the leader after a 1:56.2 prelims split.
SEMIFINALS QUICK HITS:
- Women’s 100 free:
- The 100 free semis are loaded with talent. 200 free silver medalist Siobhan Haughey matches up with 200 free bronze medalist Penny Oleksiak in the first semi, with former 100 free world record-holder Cate Campbell lurking.
- Emma McKeon set the Olympic record in heats, and she leads semifinal #2 against world record-holder Sarah Sjostrom and British talent Ann Hopkin. Watch out for Dutch sprinter Femke Heemskerk out in lane 2; she had the second-best split of anyone on the 4×100 free relay at 52.0.
- Men’s 200 back:
- 100 back gold medalist Evgeny Rylov should lead the men’s 200 back, and he’s got a pretty clear path to win the first semifinal. The second semi might be more interesting, with defending Olympic champ Ryan Murphy out in lane 6 and Chinese star Xu Jiayu way on the outside in lane 8. Great Britain’s Luke Greenbank was the top qualifier out of heats and will swim in that second semi as well.
- Women’s 200 breast:
- We’re on world record watch for South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker, the 100 breast silver medalist who is actually better at the 200. Schoenmaker was hundredths off the world record in heats. She’s more of a speedster who will push the front half, and swims next to Russian 16-year-old Evgeniia Chikunova, one of the better closers in the field. (Chikunova had the best closing split of anyone in the heats at 35.8, almost a second faster than her two middle 50 splits.)
- Lilly King looks for redemption after a disappointing bronze medal in her best event, the 100 breast. She leads heat 1 and should also push the pace early.
- Men’s 200 IM:
- Speaking of front-half swimmers, don’t be alarmed if Michael Andrew is well under world record pace at the 150-mark of this 200 IM. He’s a notorious front-half swimmer who will use his massive fly and breast advantages – but may struggle with the freestyle, where he had the slowest split of any semifinal qualifier in the heats. He swims right next to the absolute best freestyle split of anyone in heats, New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt.
- In the other semi, we get to see 4×200 free relay hero Duncan Scott, another great closer who will have to just survive the breaststroke leg against a field that includes some of the top breaststroke splits of heats: Chase Kalisz, Jeremy Desplanches, Alberto Razzetti and Tomoe Hvas all split 33s on breaststroke in the heats, trailing only Andrew (32.6) among semifinal qualifiers.