Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Day 7 Prelims Live Recap


It’s the very last prelims session of the 2020 Olympics, with the meet’s shortest and longest races headlining.

Sprint sensation Caeleb Dressel will lead the men’s 50 free, aiming to become the first man to go under 21 seconds in the 50 free since the extra-buoyant full-body racing suits were banned in 2010. He’s currently the #3 swimmer of all-time.

He’ll swim next to the #4 swimmer of all-time, Great Britain’s Ben Proud in a can’t-miss prelims showdown. Russia’s Vladimir Morozov and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus lead the other circle-seeded heats.

In the women’s 50 free, world record-holder Sarah Sjostrom leads the field, hoping to win her first Olympic gold in this event just months after breaking her elbow and undergoing a surgery that put her Olympic hopes in jeopardy.

Australia’s dynamic duo of Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell will also lead heats, and the field is extremely deep, featuring defending world champ Simone Manuel2016 Olympic champ Pernille Blumeand 2012 Olympic champ Ranomi Kromowidjojo.

In the men’s 1500 free, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri enters as the top seed. Last summer, amid the pandemic, Paltrinieri rattled the world record with a 14:33.10. He’s got a shot to break Sun Yang’s world record this week as Sun watches the Olympics while serving an anti-doping suspension.

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock is the defending world champ, and Mykhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine won silver in 2019.

We’ll also see qualifying heats of both medley relays, with most of the top nations expected to swim alternate lineups.

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

Men’s 50 freestyle – Prelims

  • World Record: Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 20.91 (2009)
  • Olympic Record: Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 21.30 (2008)
  • World Junior Record: Michael Andrew (USA) – 21.75 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Anthony Ervin (USA) – 21.40
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Men’s 50 freestyle

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 21.32
  2. Florent Manaudou (FRA) – 21.65
  3. Kristian Gkolomeev (GRE) – 21.66
  4. Bruno Fratus (BRA) – 21.67
  5. Vladyslav Bukhov (UKR) – 21.73
  6. Thom de Boer (NED) – 21.75
  7. Jesse Puts (NED) – 21.84
  8. Brent Hayden (CAN) – 21.85
  9. Lorenzo Zazzeri (ITA) – 21.86
  10. Kliment Kolesnikov (ROC) – 21.88
  11. Michael Andrew (USA) – 21.89
  12. Vladimir Morozov (ROC) – 21.92
  13. Ben Proud (GBR) – 21.93
  14. Alberto Mestre (VEN) – 21.96
  15. Maxime Grousset (FRA) / Pawel Juraszek (POL) – 21.97

The final prelims session of the 2020 Olympics opened with the fastest 50 freestyle field we’ve ever seen at the Olympic level. A whopping 16 men went under 22 seconds, the first time it’s taken a 21 just to earn a semifinals swim. By comparison, three 22s made semifinals in 2016, ten 22s made semis in 2012, and even at the peak of the super-suit era, six swimmers went 22 and made semifinals in 2008.

Reaching back as far as 2004, not a single swimmer broke 22 in heats.

This morning, 100 free champ Caeleb Dressel was just .02 off the Olympic record, going 21.32 to record the fastest qualifying time by three-tenths of a second. Dressel’s Olympic lineup is oddly backloaded, and he’ll be plenty busy over the final three sessions of swimming. That includes tonight’s heats, a potential triple in tomorrow morning’s finals (100 fly final/50 free semifinal/mixed medley relay) and a double in the final session (50 free final/men’s medley relay).

2012 Olympic gold medalist Florent Manaudou of France qualified second in  21.65 and will lead the other semifinal in the morning. Manaudou is the highest returning swimmer from the 2016 Olympic final, and he and Dressel have had plenty of high-profile 50 free showdowns in the International Swimming League’s two seasons.

Just three swimmers will return from that 2016 Olympic final. Great Britain’s Ben Proud was fourth last time around, and he qualified 13th today. Brazil’s Bruno Fratus was fourth this morning after taking 6th in the final five years ago.

Most of the big names are through to semis. Kristian Gkolomeev of Greece sits third and will race Dressel in the second semifinal. The two are both SEC alums in the U.S. college system, Gkolomeev representing Alabama and Dressel Florida.

Also in: 100 free bronze medalist Kliment Kolesnikov (10th), 200 IM medal contender Michael Andrew (11th coming off of his 200 IM final this morning), and former World Champs silver medalist Vladimir Morozov (11th).

37-year-old Brent Hayden made the semis for Canada in 8th place with a 21.85. On the other end of the age spectrum, 19-year-old Vladyslav Bukhov is the youngest qualifier, sitting 5th in 21.73.

Women’s 50 freestyle – Prelims

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Emma McKeon (AUS) – 24.02
  2. Pernille Blume (DEN) – 24.12
  3. Cate Campbell (AUS) – 24.15
  4. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 24.26
  5. Kasia Wasick (POL) – 24.31
  6. Zhang Yufei (CHN) – 24.36
  7. Abbey Weitzeil (USA) – 24.37
  8. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) – 24.41
  9. Arina Surkova (ROC) – 24.52
  10. Wu Qingfeng (CHN) – 24.55
  11. Simone Manuel (USA) / Emma Chelius (RSA) – 24.65
  12. Melanie Henique (FRA) – 24.69
  13. Julie Kepp Jensen (DEN) – 24.70
  14. Siobhan Haughey (HKG) – 24.75
  15. Femke Heemskerk (NED) – 24.77

Australia’s Emma McKeon set her second prelims Olympic record of the meet. McKeon has been excellent in her prelims showings so far, qualifying fastest out of heats in the 100 fly and 100 free and setting an Olympic record in heats of the latter. She kept that early speed going here, blasting a 24.02 Olympic record to lead qualifying in the 50 free the evening after winning 100 free gold.

McKeon shaved .03 off the Olympic record set by the Netherlands Ranomi Kromowidjojo in 2012.

The previous two Olympic champs and previous two World champs in this event – four different swimmers – all advanced to the semifinals. 2016 Olympic champ Pernille Blume is second for Denmark, about four-tenths off her best swim of all-time. 2012 Olympic champ Kromowidjojo sits 8th.

2019 World champ Simone Manuel is tied for 11th. And 2017 World champ Sarah Sjostrom (who set the standing world record that year) qualified fourth.

That makes for a pretty loaded field, especially when you factor in 100 free bronze medalist Cate Campbell in third at 24.15 and 100/200 free bronze medalist Siobhan Haughey sneaking in to 15th.

From outside of the sprint free range, China’s 200 fly Olympic gold medalist Zhang Yufei showed some impressive versatility, qualifying 6th here in 24.36.

Great Britain’s Anna Hopkin was a no-show in this event. That probably suggests that Hopkin will be taking over the freestyle leg of the mixed medley relay in tomorrow morning’s heats. Hopkin would have had a very tight event double with semifinals of the 50 free.

Quite a few 50 free qualifiers could be in the mix for medley relay spots, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see some scratches out of this event – or some relay lineups written without these 50 freestylers. McKeon is likely to be on Australia’s relay regardless. Abbey Weitzeil is an option for the U.S. relay; so is Simone ManuelZhang should be on China’s relay. 16th-place Femke Heemskerk is likely to be on the Dutch mixed relay.

Russia’s Mariia Kameneva was just 19th and missed semis, but that probably frees her up to be fresh for the mixed medley, too.

Men’s 1500 freestyle – Prelims

  • World Record: Sun Yang (CHN) – 14:31.02 (2012)
  • Olympic Record: Sun Yang (CHN) – 14:31.02 (2012)
  • World Junior Record: Franko Grgic (CRO) – 14:46.09 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) – 14:34.57
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Men’s 1500 freestyle

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR) – 14:45.99
  2. Bobby Finke (USA) – 14:47.20
  3. Florian Wellbrock (GER) – 14:48.53
  4. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) – 14:49.17
  5. Daniel Jervis (GBR) – 14:50.22
  6. Serhii Frolov (UKR) – 14:51.83
  7. Felix Auboeck (AUT) – 14:51.88
  8. Kirill Martynchev (ROC) – 14:52.66

800 free medalists Mykhailo Romanchuk, Bobby Finke and Gregorio Paltrinieri rematched in the final heat, surging out on the field and dueling back and forth to take three of the top four qualifying spots in the 1500. Finke led a good portion of the way, but Romanchuk took over late to put up the top qualifying time in 14:45.99.

Finke sits second overall in 14:47.20. He went about a second faster from 800 heats to the 800 final where he won gold, so Finke should be a major factor in tomorrow’s final.

Paltrinieri, the Italian who battled mono this summer, qualified fourth in 14:49.17 after taking silver ahead of Romanchuk in that 800.

The other circle-seeded heat-winner Florian Wellbrock of Germany sits third overall. Wellbrock was just outside the medals in the 800 by half a second, but is better-suited to the longer distances. He’s the defending World champ in this event, besting Romanchuk (silver) and Paltrinieri (bronze) at the 2019 World championships.

Great Britain’s Daniel Jervis is also into the final, about a second back of Paltrinieri.

6 of the 8 finalists in the 800 free also made the final here. That includes the top four, plus Ukraine’s Serhii Frolov and Austraia’s Felix Auboeck, who set a national record at 14:51.88 from outside the circle-seeded heats. Russia’s Kirill Martynchev is the other finalist.

Notably, 2016 Olympic finalist Henrik Christiansen struggled, missing the final in 21st with a 15:11.14.

Out of the opening heat, Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen set a national record in 15:07.69.

Women’s 4×100 medley relay – Prelims

  • World Record: USA (Smith, King, Dahlia, Manuel) – 3:50.40 (2019)
  • Olympic Record: USA (Franklin, Soni, Vollmer, Schmitt) – 3:52.05 (2012)
  • World Junior Record: Canada (Hannah, Nelson, Oleksiak, Ruck) – 3:58.38 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: USA (Baker, King, Vollmer, Manuel) – 3:53.13
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Women’s 4×100 medley relay

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Canada – 3:55.17
  2. USA – 3:55.18
  3. Australia – 3:55.39
  4. Italy – 3:55.79
  5. Sweden – 3:56.23
  6. Japan – 3:57.17
  7. Russian Olympic Committee – 3:57.36
  8. China – 3:57.70

With most nations swimming somewhat off-lineups, Canada touched out the United States in a spirited battle in the final heat, reminiscent of the 4×100 free relay final earlier this week in which Canada touched out the U.S. for silver.

Canada charged in the back half, with Maggie MacNeil splitting a field-best 55.8 on fly and Kayla Sanchez rocketing home in 52.6. That’s a huge swim for Sanchez, who led off the 4×100 free relay in 53.4.

Taylor Ruck led off in 59.64 – she’ll likely give way to 100 back silver medalist Kylie Masse tonight. Meanwhile, Sydney Pickrem was 1:07.0 on breast.

The U.S. will sit second into the final. Erika Brown came through with a nice 52.8 split on the anchor, though Sanchez passed her up for the heat win. Lilly King was 1:05.51 for the U.S. The lineup of Rhyan White (59.1), King, Claire Curzan (57.6) and Brown is likely to swap out entirely for the final, with 100 back bronze medalist Regan Smith, 100 breast gold medalist Lydia Jacoby, flyer Torri Huske and sprinter Abbey Weitzeil waiting in the wings.

Australia won its heat with an off-lineup of their own. Australia is fast becoming the fertile ground where 52-second freestylers grow like weeds. 17-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan anchored in a blazing 52.3. That is actually faster than one flying start leg from Australia’s 4×100 free relay that won Olympic gold and set the world record earlier this week. And outside of Australia, a 52.3 would have been the fastest split on all but two other relays in that final.

Even still, Australia will probably swap her out for Cate Campbell in the final tomorrow. Perhaps the biggest development for Australia was that Chelsea Hodges split 1:06.1 on breaststroke. If the Aussies can keep the breaststroke leg close to the Americans, they have the back half with Emma McKeon and Campbell to run down the U.S. for gold.

Italy sits fourth, getting a field-best 1:05.2 breaststroke leg from Arianna Castiglioni.

Sweden was also led by a breaststroker, with Sophie Hansson splitting 1:05.6. Sweden pretty much swam its best lineup, with Sarah Sjostrom anchoring in 53.1.

It’s been tough sledding for Japan in the relays, with both women’s relays coming up in 9th place out of heats so far. So a 6th-place breakthrough was hard-earned, with comeback swimmer Rikako Ikee finally getting to compete in a final in her return to competition as a relay-only swimmer. Ikee split 57.5 on fly for Japan.

Russia is also into the final with Svetlana Chimrova splitting 56.9 on fly and Yulia Efimova 1:06.3 on breast. Russia should be able to swap out at least three of their four legs with room to move up in tomorrow’s final.

China also snuck in, besting Great Britain by about a second and a half. China got a 1:05.7 breaststroke split from Tang Qianting, which makes them a little more dangerous when they add 100 fly silver medalist Zhang Yufei for the final.

Freya Anderson had a nice 52.5 split for Great Britain here, matching her anchor split from yesterday’s mixed medley relay heats.

The best backstroke split in prelims went to Kira Toussaint of the Netherlands, who was 58.99. But the Dutch will not move on after getting a 1:09.9 breast legCastiglioni of Italy had the best breaststroke leg. MacNeil of Canada led the flyers, and O’Callaghan of Australia was the top freestyle split.

Men’s 4×100 medley relay – Prelims

  • World Record: USA (Peirsol, Shanteau, Phelps, Walters) – 3:27.28 (2009)
  • Olympic Record: USA (Murphy, Miller, Phelps, Adrian) – 3:27.95 (2016)
  • World Junior Record: Russia (Zuev, Gerasimenko, Minakov, Schchegolev) – 3:33.19 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: USA (Murphy, Miller, Phelps, Adrian) – 3:27.95
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Men’s 4×100 medley relay

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Italy – 3:30.02
  2. Great Britain – 3:31.47
  3. Russian Olympic Committee – 3:31.66
  4. China – 3:31.72
  5. Japan – 3:32.02
  6. Australia – 3:32.08
  7. USA – 3:32.29
  8. Canada – 3:32.37

Like they did in the 4×100 free relay, Italy came through with a statement swim out of prelims, hitting the top time at 3:30.02. Nicolo Martinenghi dipped below 58 seconds on the breaststroke leg, a rare feat for anyone not named Adam Peaty. Martinenghi was 57.94 and Alessandro Miressi anchored in 47.42.

Those two joined Thomas Ceccon (53.20 backstroke) and Federico Burdisso (51.46 fly) to lead heats by almost a second and a half. The team was just a tenth off the national record set by this same quartet at the European Championships in May.

The British relay did not use gold medal breaststroker Peaty yet. Instead, James Wilby split 59.1 there. James Guy continued to be a relay powerhouse, splitting 50.77 on fly, one of the top splits in the entire field. Duncan Scott was a casual 47.7 anchor as Great Britain won its heat over Russia.

The Russian crew got a 47.7 anchor from Vladislav Grinev and a 51.2 fly split out of Mikhail VekovishchevWhile Italy probably won’t do any subbing out from this relay in the final, Great Britain will definitely add Peaty, and Russia should switch out all four legs, likely using 100 back gold medalist Evgeny Rylov along with Kirill Prigoda, Andrei Minakov and 100 free bronze medalist Kliment Kolesnikov in the final.

Like Italy, China used most of its big hitters in heats. Xu Jiayu had the second-best backstroke leg of prelims at 52.82 and Yan Zibei was 58.3 on breast.

Japan’s Katsumi Nakamura split 47.7 on the anchor to get the host nation into the final in fifth. Australia’s Kyle Chalmers went 47.5 on the anchor to get his nation into the mix.

It was a bit of a close scrape for Team USA, which has never missed Olympic gold in this relay outside of the boycotted 1980 Olympics. The U.S. swam an entire second-string lineup, and at one point ranked just fifth in its own heat. Tom Shields was 51.3 on fly to bring the team back into contention, and Blake Pieroni anchored in 48.2.

Canada edged out Poland for the last spot in the final. Joshua Liendo blasted a 50.9 fly split and Yuri Kisil was 47.8 on free as the Canadians mounted a huge back-half surge.

Poland had the field’s best fly split on a 50.6 from Jakub MajerskiThey struggled to get out to a good start with a 54.5 backstroke, and they weren’t quite able to book a top-8 spot, finishing tenths behind Canada.

A roundup of the field’s best splits: Yohann Ndoye-Brouard led the backstrokers at 52.7. Italy’s Martinenghi was the best breaststroker at 57.9. Majerski paced fly in 50.6 and Miressi of Italy led freestyleers at 47.4.

There were a rash of DQs in this race. Both Brazil and Lithuania disqualified out of the same heat on the same exchange, back-to-breast.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Aaron Sandor
2 years ago

Can anyone answer why Bowe Becker wasn’t anchoring in the prelim for the US Medley Relay?? His inspired clutch swimming is inspiring to say the least!! And, they almost failed to make the finals!!

2 years ago

Lol wtf happened to Ben proud. Looks like he knew he couldn’t hang with Dressel and quit a few years ago.

Reply to  Pvdh
2 years ago

what do you mean hes in the semi-finals of 50m freestyle?

2 years ago

Dahlia was always a solid performer on the relays, even when she underperformed individually she always brought her A game on relays

2 years ago

USA W400 medley is looking good heading into finals IMO
Regan: Wants to prove herself against Masse and mckeon. Will be the only of the three who doesn’t have 200 back and 100 back on mixed relay tonight. Not to mention her 200 fly shows that she looked better than she ever has at the end of a race
Jacoby: wants to prove that her win wasn’t a fluke and has got to be filled with confidence following that race.
Huske: has got to be medal hungry after that 4th by .01 and I have a feeling being ahead going into it will allow her to be a little more relaxed on that first 50 and be… Read more »

Reply to  Swimmin’
2 years ago

Clarifying I think one of Abby and Simone make final but not both

2 years ago

Anyone know where to find complete prelims relay splits?

Reply to  Jeff
2 years ago

Clink on the live results link above, choose an event, you can hit the + to see splits.

OR you can click on reports for that event and look for results summary. That will give you the more traditional PDF

2 years ago

On the bright side (for America), Duncan Scott will not be beside them in the final

2 years ago

Taylor Ruck led off in 59.64 – she’ll likely give way to 100 back silver medalist Kylie Masse tonight.”

Aren’t the finals for women’s medley relay tomorrow night (US time)?

Reply to  Meow
2 years ago

Yes, there’s a day between. Only Mixed relay next session.

Scotty P
2 years ago

Ben Proud probabaly did heavy bicep curls as his warmup.

I throw shade because I’m jealous of the bod.

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 …

Read More »