Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Day 6 Prelims Live Recap


World record-holders Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel lead events into today’s prelims session at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Ledecky will kick things off in the 800 free, where she set the world record at the 2016 Olympics. The 24-year-old Ledecky is looking to remain undefeated on the world stage in this event, hoping to add a third-straight Olympic gold to her four consecutive World Championships golds in the 800.

China’s Wang Jianjiahe is the #3 performer of all-time and Italy’s Simona Quadarella the #4 performer of all-time. They’ll chase Ledecky in today’s heats.

Dressel leads the men’s 100 fly, where he broke a Michael Phelps world record at the 2019 World Championships. He’ll battle young risers Kristof Milak of Hungary, Matthew Temple of Australia and Andrei Minakov of Russia.

The women’s 200 back will not feature the world record-holder, as Regan Smith missed out on the U.S. Olympic team. The two swimmers who beat her, Rhyan White and Phoebe Baconwill represent Team USA, but the clear favorite is Australia’s Kaylee McKeownwho is the #3 performer of all-time and within a second of Smith’s world record.

The session will end with new Olympic lineup addition the mixed-gender 4×100 medley relay. Each nation will swim two men and two women in a traditional medley relay order (back/breast/fly/free). The event is one of the most complex, strategically, in the Olympic program, and this morning’s heats will allow a few key nations to test out some strategies while other nations rest their top competitors ahead of the day 7 final.

Keep refreshing this page for live, event-by-event recaps of tonight’s (local time; morning in the U.S.) qualifying heats.

Women’s 800 freestyle – Prelims

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Katie Ledecky (USA) – 8:15.67
  2. Katie Grimes (USA) – 8:17.05
  3. Simona Quadarella (ITA) – 8:17.32
  4. Sarah Kohler (GER) – 8:17.33
  5. Anastasiia Kirpichnikova (ROC) – 8:18.77
  6. Ariarne Titmus (AUS) – 8:18.99
  7. Kiah Melverton (AUS) – 8:20.45
  8. Wang Jianjiahe (CHN) – 8:20.58

The fastest four times came out of the second semifinal, as the field really surged in Katie Ledecky‘s wake. Ledecky went 8:15.67, well off her world record, but still a second and a half up on the field.

15-year-old American Katie Grimes swam an incredible race, trailing Ledecky in second much of the way, falling back behind a few others with 100 to go, then surging past the field again to finish second in the heat and second overall at 8:17.05.

At U.S. Olympic Trials, we noted the eerie similarities between the 15-year-old Grimes and a 15-year-old Ledecky, who both made huge time drops to make the U.S. Olympic team in the 800 free as teenagers. Grimes went 8:20 in 2021; Ledecky 8:19 back in 2012. Ledecky continued to expand her profile that year by dropping to 8:14 while winning gold at the Olympics, but Grimes now put together a big time drop of her own with this morning’s 8:17. She moves past Janet Evans in the all-time 15-16 ranks and trails only Ledecky in that age group.

One more Grimes note: she actually out-split Ledecky on the final three splits in heats, dropping from consistent 31-mids to 31.1/30.8/29.7 over her final 150.

World 1500 free champ Simona Quadarella is into the final in third, finishing tenths behind Grimes in that heat, and Germany’s Sarah Kohler closed in sub-30 to finish a hundredth behind her.

Anastasiia Kirpichnikova blasted a huge Russian record out of the first semifinal, going 8:18.77 to take almost three seconds off her national mark. She chased down 200/400 free gold medalist Ariarne Titmus of Australia to win that heat. Behind Titmus, her countrywoman Kiah Melverton had a big closing split to pass China’s Wang JianjiaheThey all made the final, albeit in spots 5-6-7-8, with Germany’s Isabel Gose the top swimmer left out at 8:21.79. China’s 4×200 free relay gold medal anchor Li Bingjie was 10th in 8:22.49.

Before the circle-seeded heats, 14-year-old Summer McIntosh dropped about four and a half seconds off her best time to re-break Canada’s national age group record for 13-14s. Notably, McIntosh is faster than the United States national age group record, and faster than Ledecky herself was at age 14. Ledecky was 8:30.14 at 14 but had a huge breakout to 8:14.6 as a 15-year-old.

Men’s 100 butterfly – Prelims

  • World Record: Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 49.50 (2019)
  • Olympic Record: Joseph Schooling (SGP) – 50.39 (2016)
  • World Junior Record: Kristof Milak (HUN) – 50.62 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Joseph Schooling (SGP) – 50.39
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Men’s 100 butterfly

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 50.39
  2. Kristof Milak (HUN) – 50.62
  3. Jakub Majerski (POL) – 50.97
  4. Andrei Minakov (ROC) – 51.00
  5. Noe Ponti (SUI) – 51.24
  6. Josif Miladiniov (BUL) – 51.28
  7. Luis Carlos Martinez (GUA) – 51.29
  8. Matthew Temple (AUS) – 51.39
  9. Joshua Liendo (CAN) – 51.52
  10. Mehdy Metella (FRA) – 51.53
  11. Nyls Korstanje (NED) – 51.54
  12. Naoki Mizunuma (JPN) / Tom Shields (USA) – 51.57
  13. Szebasztian Szabo (HUN) / Youssef Ramadan (EGY) – 51.67
  14. Sun Jiajun (CHN) – 51.74

Caeleb Dressel was out uncharacteristically slow in heats, sitting just 5th in his heat at the 50 turn in 23.8. Note that at U.S. Olympic Trials, Dressel was out in 23.3 in both heats and semifinals and 23.1 in the final. But even that lack of early speed couldn’t keep Dressel from the #1 spot. He soared back in 26.54 to tie the Olympic record and take the top prelims spot by three-tenths.

He moves into a tie for that Olympic record with his former club teammate Joseph Schooling. The two swam together for the Bolles School Sharks and competed against one another in the NCAA for four seasons. Schooling’s 50.39 won Olympic gold five years ago.

200 fly champ Kristof Milak was 50.62 for second. He went 50.1 at European Championships back in May, and if he and Dressel swim well, it’s possible we see them both challenge the 50-second barrier in semifinals and/or finals. Dressel is the world record-holder and Milak sits #4 all-time behind Dressel, Michael Phelps (49.82) and Milorad Cavic (49.95).

There were a flood of national records in this race. Jakub Majerski took Poland’s record below 51 seconds for the first time ever, going 50.97 for third. Nyls Korstanje broke the Dutch record in 51.54, placing 11th. Youssef Ramadan tied for 14th, setting a new Egyptian record in 51.67.

Outside of the semifinal qualifiers, Tomoe Hvas took a tenth off his own Norwegian record in 52.22. Shane Ryan broke the Irish record in 52.52.

Noe Ponti was just off his own Swiss record in 51.24 – that was good for fifth place and another swim.

Some big names missed the semifinals in a pretty fast event overall. Defending Olympic champ Schooling finished 44th for Singapore in 53.12. Defending Olympic silver medalist Chad le Clos was 18th and should be out barring any scratches. With bronze medalist Laszlo Cseh not on the Hungarian team in this event, that means that we should have three brand-new medalists in this event unless le Clos somehow scratches in.

Great Britain’s James Guy was a no-show, likely saving up to be ready for the British mixed medley relay later in this session.

Women’s 200 backstroke – Prelims

  • World Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • Olympic Record: Missy Franklin (USA) – 2:04.06 (2012)
  • World Junior Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Maya DiRado (USA) – 2:05.99
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Women’s 200 backstroke

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Kaylee McKeown (AUS) – 2:08.18
  2. Ryan White (USA) / Kylie Masse (CAN) – 2:08.23
  3. Phoebe Bacon (USA) – 2:08.30
  4. Liu Yaxin (CHN) – 2:08.36
  5. Taylor Ruck (CAN) – 2:08.87
  6. Peng Xuwei (CHN) – 2:09.03
  7. Emily Seebohm (AUS) / Katalin Burian (HUN) – 2:09.10
  8. Lena Grabowski (AUT) – 2:09.77
  9. Tatiana Salcutan (MDA) – 2:09.98
  10. Margherita Panzier (ITA) – 2:10.26
  11. Laura Bernat (POL) – 2:10.37
  12. Africa Zamorano Sanz (ESP) – 2:10.72
  13. Aviv Barzelay (ISR) – 2:11.13
  14. Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) – 2:11.24

100 back gold medalist Kaylee McKeown took care of business in heats with a 2:08.18 for the top qualifying spot. The 20-year-old Australian is the #3 swimmer of all-time in this event, though she was nearly four seconds off her best time this morning. It was a pretty casual session of heats for the backstrokers, with 16th place actually half a second slower than 16th place was at the Olympics five years ago.

Both Australians are into semis, with Emily Seebohm tying for 8th. The United States also gets two into the semis with Rhyan White second (2:08.23) and Phoebe Bacon fourth (2:08.30). White tied with Canada’s Kylie Massefresh off an Olympic silver in the 100 back.

There will be a lot of nations with two semifinalists here. China got both Liu Yaxin and Peng Xuwei into the top 8. Canada adds 6th-place Taylor Ruck to Masse. Ruck hasn’t been anywhere near her career-bests this year, but a 2:08.87 today is a nice swim for her and four-tenths faster than her season-best.

Right now, the top 8 features two swimmers each from Australia, the United States, Canada and China. Hungary’s Katalin Burian (tied for 8th with Seebohm) is the lone swimmer outside those countries in the top 8.

Defending Olympic silver medalist Katinka Hosszu missed the semifinals in 20th place. Now 32, the legendary Hosszu has struggled through these Games, and this was her final event entry individually.

Mixed 4×100 medley relay – Prelims

  • World Record: China (Xu, Yan, Zhang, Yang) – 3:38.41 (2020)
  • Olympic Record: N/A
  • World Junior Record: USA (Grant, Matheny, Huske, Walsh) – 3:44.84 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: N/A
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Mixed 4×100 medley relay

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Great Britain – 3:38.75 ER
  2. USA – 3:41.02
  3. China – 3:42.29
  4. Australia – 3:42.35
  5. Italy – 3:42.65
  6. Netherlands – 3:43.25
  7. ROC – 3:43.73
  8. Israel – 3:43.94

Great Britain pretty much loaded up its best lineup this morning and broke the European record in 3:38.75. That time is just three-tenths of a second off the world record set by China late last year.

Kathleen Dawson led off in 58.50, notably better than her time from the individual 100 back. (She was 58.56 in semifinals of that race and 58.70 for sixth in the final). Adam Peaty crushed a 57.08 split on breaststroke, the major difference-maker here. Based on our best research, that’s the #3 breaststroke split of all-time behind Peaty’s 56.59 from the 2016 Olympics and 56.91 from the 2017 World Championships.

After scratching the 100 fly individually, James Guy split 50.58 – he’s been an absolute relay hero for the Brits so far and had the best fly leg of any swimmer in the heats today. Freya Anderson split 52.59 on the anchor, a solid improvement over her 52.8 split on the 4×100 free relay.

It’s still likely Great Britain swaps her out for Anna Hopkin in the final. Hopkin split 52.6 in heats of the 4×100 free relay and then went 52.7 from a flat start in the individual 100 free. Subbing in Hopkin could be the edge the Brits need to break the world record in the final, which is a full day after heats. The final will take place on Saturday morning local time, Friday night U.S. time, or during Day 7 finals.

The United States gave Regan Smith a shot to lead off this relay, and she delivered with a 57.64. That would rank as the #5 swim of all-time in the 100 back, though only unofficially – leadoffs from mixed medley relays are not eligible for world records due to potential drafting advantages. Still, it’s a breakthrough swim for Smith, who is still just 19 years old and seems to be getting better as the meet goes on and she gets more comfortable in the Olympic spotlight.

Andrew Wilson split 59.0 on breastroke – he’ll probably swap out in the final for either Michael Andrew, Lydia Jacoby or Lilly King. Tom Shields went 50.8 for a solid fly leg coming off of a 51.5 individual 100 fly heats swim not much earlier today. Abbey Weitzeil anchored in 53.4. It’s unclear what the U.S. plans to do for the final, where Andrew and Caeleb Dressel will both have tough doubles. Andrew should swim the 50 free semis right before this relay, and Dressel will likely have the 100 fly final and 50 free semis in that session.

China swam its exact same quartet that broke the world record late last year. They mostly cruised to third in 3:42.29. Xu Jiayu was 52.6, close to his 52.5 time from the 100 back final. Flyer Zhang Yufei can be much faster than her 57.3 split today – she was 55.6 from a flat start while taking silver in the individual 100 fly. But she’s also coming off a brutal 200 fly/200 free double this morning in which she set Olympic records and won Olympic gold in both races, so a slower prelims swim here is pretty understandable. She should really benefit from the full day between heats and finals, making China a real gold medal threat here.

Australia swam a complete off lineup, but still made the final easily. Bronte Campbell was an excellent 52.3 on the anchor leg, and Zac Stubblety-Cook gave both this relay and the men’s medley a big boost by splitting 58.8. Stubblety-Cook was a disappointing 1:00.0 in the individual 100 breast, which probably ruled this relay and the men’s medley out of medal contention. But his bounce-back puts those two Australian relays back in the medal mix.

Italy got a 58.3 breaststroke split from Nicolo Martinenghi, the individual 100 breast bronze medalist. They should get faster by putting Thomas Ceccon on backstroke for the final, where he’s more than a second faster than Simone Sabbioni‘s 53.9 this morning.

The Dutch were also led by a big breaststroke split: 58.1 from 100 breast silver medalist Arno Kamminga. They should swap 53.1 Ranomi Kromowidjojo for Femke Heemskerk in the final. Heemskerk split 51.9 on the 4×100 free relay.

Russia made the final with using 100 back gold medalist Evgeny Rylov or 100 free bronze medalist Kliment Kolesnikov. Maria Kameneva split 53.9 on free.

Meanwhile Israel snuck into the final with a massive national record 3:43.94. That took more than four seconds off the standing national record. Anastasia Gorbenko led off in 59.59 and Gal Cohen Groumi was 51.0 on fly.

Canada gambled on a off-lineup, not using 100 fly champ Maggie MacNeil or 100 free defending champ Penny Oleksiak. They paid the price with a 13th-place finish that missed the final, although Canada probably didn’t have the breaststroke leg to contend for a medal here anyways. They’ll instead save up MacNeil and Oleksiak for the women’s medley relay.

Coming off of a battle with leukemia, Japan’s Rikako Ikee made her second appearance of these home Olympic Games. And for the second time, her relay came up in 9th place and out of the final. Ikee split 53.7 on freestyle here as Japan finished in 3:44.15, just two-tenths behind Israel. Ikee was 53.6 on a 4×100 free relay earlier this week that finished 9th and just 0.3 seconds out of the final.

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1 year ago

Only way MA breaks that world record is an extended trip to Gainesville, Florida.

1 year ago

Titmus v Ledecky again

Reply to  IHB
1 year ago

I think more ledecky vs grimes like Ledecky was In 2012 and regan smith in 2019 not as swimming until itthe 6th day of competition and then blowing away the field

M d e
Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

Grimes didn’t go fast enough that you can write Titmus off.

If Grimes is close to Ledecky Titmus probably will be too.

Little Mermaid
1 year ago

MA needs more baking soda intake! That will get him home under 30

NornIron Swim
1 year ago

Shane Ryan’s shoulder was ok for the 100fly but not the 100bk?

Reply to  NornIron Swim
1 year ago

More rest maybe? I think he knows more about his body than you man

NornIron Swim
Reply to  Swimmerfromjapananduk
1 year ago

It was a serious question.
I doubt those few extra days rest had that much of an impact when several weeks didn’t.

Reply to  NornIron Swim
1 year ago

The human body is well designed to do the shoulder motion for the crawl, breaststroke, and fly. The backstroke–not so much.

Reply to  NornIron Swim
1 year ago

If it’s a rotator cuff issue his fly would not be affected. I’ve had that happen to me before.

Joel Greenwald
1 year ago

MMR for the USA: Smith, Andrew or Wilson, Huske, Dressel

Joe Joe
Reply to  Joel Greenwald
1 year ago

This is the way.

1 year ago

Woke up so happy about Ledecky’s anchor. She had pop and fire in that swim. . It’s hard for these athletes. I think Dressel showed that. Beast of a man with real emotions post race. Lots been bottled up – hard year for everyone and it’s been too long since they’re seen their partners, friends, parents, pets at this point. I know it’s not the point but if he can cry and be free maybe someone who holds everything in to their detriment will do the same. Maybe it’s dramatic for me to say but maybe his tears saved a life. And the way he and Chalmers hugged it out. Maybe civility and emotion can come back. Politics sure as… Read more »

Coach Macgyver
1 year ago

Hopefully the staff decides to focus on individual performances tonight as opposed to the relay. It seems like there is enough options to load the relay without hindering rest need for individuals who have made finals in the respective events.

Gogo bibi
1 year ago

Other news: 200 IM final will be His last olympic race for Lazlo Cseh 😢

Last edited 1 year ago by Gogo bibi
Reply to  Gogo bibi
1 year ago


Mr Piano
Reply to  Gogo bibi
1 year ago


Reply to  Gogo bibi
1 year ago

until Paris 2024 🙂

Reply to  Gogo bibi
1 year ago


About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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