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
- Start Lists & Results
Women’s 100 Freestyle
- World Record: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 51.71 (2017)
- Olympic Record: Simone Manuel (USA)/Penny Oleksiak (CAN) – 52.70 (2016)
- World Junior Record: Penny Oleksiak – 52.70 (2016)
- 2016 Olympic Champions: Simone Manuel (USA) /Penny Oleksiak (CAN) – 52.70
Since winning a surprise gold medal in 2016, American Simone Manuel has dominated the women’s 100 freestyle on the international stage, winning gold at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships as well. Going into Tokyo, Manuel looked to be the favorite for gold. However, a diagnosis with Overtraining Syndrome in early April forced Manuel out of the water for several weeks, and she failed to qualify for the US Olympic team in the event, coming in 9th overall. Without Manuel swimming the event in Tokyo, the women’s 100 freestyle will have a new face on the top of the podium for the first time since Rio.
In Manuel’s absence, Sweedish sprinter Sarah Sjostrom would be an easy favorite to win the Olympic title. Sjostrom, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, is the current world record holder in the event, having swam a time of 51.71 back at the 2017 World Championships. However, Sjostrom was also out of the water for a period of time after breaking her elbow earlier this year. After returning to the water, Sjostrom has been as fast as 53.47, coming in second place at the Sette Colli Trophy. She will most likely need to be about a half second faster to contend for a medal in Tokyo, but with a fairly narrow field, she should still be one of the top contenders.
Cate Campbell entered Rio as the heavy favorite for gold in the event after breaking the long standing world record during the Australian Olympic Trials (which has since been broken by Sjostrom). Campbell was unable to repeat her successes on the Olympic stage, falling to 6th place in the final. After taking most of 2017 off, Campbell returned to the international stage, winning gold at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in a best time of 52.03, the second fastest performance of all time. At 29-years-old, Campbell has been on the international stage for over 13 years. However, she has never won an Olympic title in an individual event. Tokyo may be Campbell’s best, and final chance, to accomplish that feat.
Campbell will be joined in Tokyo by her Australian teammate Emma McKeon, who won the event at the Australian Olympic Trials last month. McKeon swam a time of 52.35 in finals after posting a 52.19 in prelims, making her the fastest swimmer in the world for the 2020-2021 season. McKeon was a member of Australia’s winning 400 freestyle relay in Rio, but she’s in the position to claim her first individual title in Tokyo. However, she’ll have a busy schedule during the meet, with up to 7 events, even after dropping the 200 freestyle.
In Rio, then 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak shocked almost everyone when she tied Manuel for the Olympic title, setting a new World Junior Record with her time of 52.70. In the years since then, however, Oleksiak has failed to reach the same level of competition, falling to 6th at the 2017 World Championships and not even contesting the event at the 2019 World Championships. Now, at 21-years-old, Oleksiak is looking to make a comeback, and has positioned herself well to do so. At the 2021 Canadian Olympic Trials, Oleksiak won the 100 freestyle in a time of 52.89, her fastest performance since Rio. Oleksiak’s time currently ranks her 4th in the world for this season, with all 3 of the swimmers in front of her coming from Australia.
Oleksiak’s teammate Taylor Ruck is also looking to regain her momentum after a disappointing meet at the Canadian Olympic Trials. Ruck, the reigning Pan Pac and Commonwealth Games champion, missed the Olympic Team in the 200 freestyle. However, Ruck was pre-nominated to swim the 100 freestyle in Tokyo, and also may be in the conversation for a medal if she can beat her personal best of 52.71.
In Manuel’s absence from the final at the US Olympic Trials meet, Abbey Weitzeil and Erika Brown claimed the two individual spots in the event. Tokyo will be Weitzeil’s second Olympic Games, after swimming in Rio 5 years ago. With her winning time of 53.52 from trials, Weitzeil currently ranks 19th in the world. However, several people rank ahead of her who cannot swim the event in Tokyo, placing her within reach of finals.
There are several other names who could have an impact in this event, including Siobhan Haughey, Femke Heemskerk, and Ranomi Kromowidjojo. All three swimmers currently rank within the top 10 in the world this season. In addition, Chinese swimmer Yang Junxuan posted a time of 53.21 at the first Olympic qualifying meet, putting herself in contention as well.
Best Time Since 2016 Olympics
|5||Abbey Weitzeil||United States||53.18|
|7||Siobhan Haughey||Hong Kong||53.30|
Dark Horse Pick: Marie Wattel has been one of France’s top sprinters for years, competing in Rio in the 100m butterfly. At the French Olympic Trials, Wattel had a strong meet, qualifying for 3 events in Tokyo, plus coming within a tenth of her best time in every race. Although Wattel was only 53.34 in the event at trials, she may have room to drop more with a full taper.