Tokyo 2020 Olympic Swimming Previews: McKeon & Campbell Hunting 1-2 in W 100 FR

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2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Women’s 100 Freestyle

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.

 

SwimSwam’s Picks

Place Swimmer Country
Best Time Since 2016 Olympics
1 Emma McKeon Australia 52.19
2 Cate Campbell Australia 52.03
3 Sarah Sjostrom Sweden 51.71
4 Penny Oleksiak Canada 52.89
5 Abbey Weitzeil United States 53.18
6 Ranomi Kromowidjojo Netherlands 52.78
7 Siobhan Haughey Hong Kong 53.30
8 Femke Heemskerk Netherlands 53.03

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. 

 

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SuperSwimmer 2000
1 year ago

Simone’s out. They might have a shot.

🥇 goldmedal1
1 year ago

Penny oleksiak for the win! Anything can happen! Remember rio?

Aigues
1 year ago

Speaking about Manuel, is there in history an other swimmer who won the 3 major gold medals in a row while posting so few “big” times?

I mean, even considering relays, if you pick the 30 fastest 100m times in history, how many have been made by Manuel? 3 maybe? That’s an enigma for me.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Aigues
1 year ago

Cate Campbell probably swam half of the fastest 30

Aigues
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Even Bronte must have 2 or 3 of them

AnEn
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Almost, according to FINA she has 13 of the top 30 times (43 %) and 36 of the top 100 times.
Sjöstrom and C. Campbell combined have 21 of the top 30 times (70 %) and 59 of the top 100 times.

AnEn
Reply to  Aigues
1 year ago

Athletes with the most top 30 fastest times in women’s 100 free (according to FINA):
C. Campbell 13
Sjöstrom 8
McKeon 5
Manuel/Steffen 2
B. Campbell 1
Cut-off: 52.46

Athletes with the most top 100 fastest times in women’s 100 free (according to FINA):
C. Campbell 36
Sjöstrom 23
McKeon 11
Manuel 6
Blume 4
B. Campbell/Steffen/Comerford 3
Heemskerk/Kromowidjojo/Bonnet/Oleksiak 2
Lenton/Ikee/Wilson/Ruck 1
Cut-off: 52.83

ooo
Reply to  Aigues
1 year ago

She has 2 (according to the FINA rankings) Apologies for the (lack of) formatting

Women 100 Freestyle

Rank Time FINA Points Name YoB Team Club Meet Name Meet City Meet Country Date 1 51.71 1020 SJOESTROEM Sarah 1993 SWE No 17th FINA World Championships 2017 Budapest HUN 23/07/2017 2 52.03 981 CAMPBELL Cate 1992 AUS No 13th Pan Pacific Championships 2018 Tokyo JPN 10/08/2018 3 52.04 981 MANUEL Simone 1996 USA No 18th FINA World Championships 2019 Gwangju KOR 26/07/2019 4 52.06 1000 CAMPBELL Cate 1992 AUS No Swimming Australia Grand Prix 2016 Brisbane AUS 02/07/2016 5 52.07
STEFFEN Britta 1983 GER No 13th FINA World Championships 2009 Rome ITA 31/07/2009 6 52.08 998 SJOESTROEM Sarah… Read more »

Aigues
Reply to  ooo
1 year ago

Wow thank you for this!

So :
C1 – 15
Sjöstrom – 9
McKeon – 7
C2 – 3
Manuel – 3
Steffen – 3

And Manuel is the youngest, no logic, and comparing flying starts from relays would make it worse…

That what makes the sport fun.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  ooo
1 year ago

fina database doesn’t contain all domestic results, and c1 goes 52 even at state meets. here’s what wikipedia says:

  1. Sjostrom (2017) 51.71
  2. C1 (2018) 52.03
  3. Manuel (2019) 52.04
  4. C1 (2016) 52.06
  5. Steffen (2009) 52.07
  6. Sjostrom (2017) 52.08
  7. C1 (2019) 52.12
  8. McKeon (2021) 52.19
  9. Steffen (2009) 52.22
  10. Sjostrom (2017) 52.23
  11. Manuel (2017) / C2 (2018) 52.27
  12. Sjostrom (2017) 52.28
  13. McKeon (2021) 52.29
  14. Sjostrom (2017) 52.31
  15. C1 (2013) 52.33
  16. C1 (2013) / C1 (2019) 52.34
  17. C1 (2019) / McKeon (2021) 52.35
  18. C1 (2018) / C1 (2018) 52.37
  19. C1 (2016) / C1 (2016) 52.38
  20. C1 (2016) / McKeon (2019) 52.41
  21. Sjostrom (2019) / C1 (2019) / C1 (2021)
… Read more »

ooo
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
1 year ago

Indeed one 52.37 and one 52.41 are not included in the FINA list. Other entries seem to be OK

Breezeway
Reply to  Aigues
1 year ago

what’s more of an enigma is someone having the most fast flat/flying times in history with so few individual gold medals. explain that

Aigues
Reply to  Breezeway
1 year ago

It is very difficult to explain it because if it was only a matter of dealing with pressure and competition, she would underperform in relays too : for example, in 2019, she anchors the relay – her first race of the meet – and dives against Manuel shoulder to shoulder, that’s like living 2016 again with in addition the weight of your team’s hope on your back, she SHOULD have melted under pressure.. and yet she swam 51.45…

And if she was just the kind of “overperforming in relays” athlete, she would not be so strong individually during minor meets.

Susan
1 year ago

Simone won the 50 at trials, looking great!
Manuel’s 100 was actually a decent time..I think she miscalculated what she needed to do for top eight, due to very little competition. Enough about the overtraining! Is that what happened to the vast majority of swimmers who were not in top form, and missed the team? They are not making excuses!
And I love how Sjostrom “also missed some time” in the water..MONTHS, not a few weeks!

Robbos
Reply to  Susan
1 year ago

No only Australian swimmers chokes, the American swimmers either have overtraining issues, pandemic issues, never tapered.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Robbos
1 year ago

American swimmers swim slower because they have BLM issues

Lol

Littlefin
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

That’s an awful thing to say.

NJones
Reply to  Susan
1 year ago

There’s a big difference between being out of the water due to lack of pool space, vs being forced out due to constant fatigue and illness…

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  NJones
1 year ago

Many swimmers have had that problem. And yet they don’t make EXCUSES

C J
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

Can you give examples of the many swimmers who had that problem? How did they get through it?

Breezeway
Reply to  Susan
1 year ago

Why would the 2016, 2017 & 2019 100 free champ need to make excuses? Who is she afraid of? She’s beaten all of them numerous times. If she has a mental/physical issue, I have no reason to doubt it.

Coming out of Rio 2016, I heard someone having shoulder issues, media pressure, false start issues, not sure what is was. Maybe the bright lights and competition pressure did it, not sure.

After Rio, they said Simone drafted. OK, in 2017 someone didn’t show up. Then in 2019, she won from lane 1 (disadvantage/advantage, I don’t know). So they say she was by herself and they couldn’t see her. So in the 50, she lined up right next to them, looked… Read more »

C J
Reply to  Breezeway
1 year ago

Yeah. I don’t understand what the problem is now. The lanes are free and clear of Manuel in Tokyo now. Isn’t that what they want? So why are they complaining about whatever “excuses” they think she is making?

Breezeway
Reply to  C J
1 year ago

It’s called “living rent free in their heads”. Simone intimidates the hell out of the Aussies (Campbells) and they hate it. Now they don’t have to deal with her in the 100, so they chase wikipedia stats.

Simone is out, Sarah is coming off elbow injury, Kromo/Blume (more 50 than 100 right now), Abbey/Freya are under dogs, let’s see what you got.

But don’t forget about the young lady north of the border that sucked down the Aussies last time also. They won’t talk about her, I wonder why.

C J
Reply to  Breezeway
1 year ago

Same thing with Team USA captain. They only had a problem with Simone. Schmitt is the only one elected who was on more national teams than Simone. In fact, this is the second Olympics for Manuel, Murphy, and Dressel. Dressel was a relay only swimmer in 2016, wasn’t he? But no problem. Simone was also team captain at Stanford. So these comments about her not having experience or don’t deserve it don’t make sense. They just come up with anything and they know why. But people will hide behind any “excuse” they can come up with instead of being honest with themselves.

Swimfan
Reply to  Susan
1 year ago

Same thing that happened to persiol back in 2009 when he missed the 100 back final

SwimWood
1 year ago

Ever since McKeon dropped the 200 fly from her list of events she has improved her speed tremendously. She has dropped to 200 free individual event which is a good sign for the sprint events. She also seems to be building nicely with her race plan. Her times have been constantly improving since QLD state in Dec to Sydney Open, then Aussie Champs and then Trials. Better again in Tokyo?

C1 is the definite danger. There’s something about her attitude that has changed in the past couple of years. She seems way more relaxed and just happy to be a part of the team. This is her 4th Olympics, and although she’s still yet to see individual success, her times… Read more »

Prettykitten
1 year ago

I’m going to predict Penny wins this one with a possible WR. Lots of speculation here but I don’t believe she was fully rested when she swam her 52.8 due to the fact that she was pre selected in the 200 her which would have been her hardest event to qualify in and she has consistently been 53mid in season.
1. Penny O
2.CC
3.McKeon

Troyy
Reply to  Prettykitten
1 year ago

I’m not sure Oleksiak has the front end speed to break Sjostrom’s WR. Sjostrom was fresh and in 23.6 form when she set that WR.

commonwombat
Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

Agree. You’re talking a 1sec drop in PB at this level …. when you’re already in the top bracket rather than newcomer. 52.2 -53.3 more plausible.

Can certainly give due credence to the case for Oleksiak winning repeat Gold but think it far more likely to be via a similar scenario to Rio of a slower than expected final swum around 52mid or higher.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  commonwombat
1 year ago

There are too many projections of half second and full second drops around here, as if they are mere numbers. Meanwhile at 100m that accounts for a considerable percentage of the full distance

Torchbearer
Reply to  Prettykitten
1 year ago

IF the WR was 51.9 maybe, but it is a loooooong way under 52…..I think it will stand for a long time yet.

Jamie5678
Reply to  Prettykitten
1 year ago

Agree with the others here. Not sure Penny O has a sub 52 in her locker, I can only really see McKeon going under 52 and challenging the WR. But if she goes close I don’t think it will happen in the final.

When McKeon swam the fastest time in the world this year at 52.19, she did so in the prelims and it looked super smooth and easy. But she fell off a little to 52.35 in the final.

Unless Sjostrom’s elbow has healed more than she’s letting on or C1 turns back the clock, it’s hard to see anyone in the field getting down to 52.19 with McKeon. But if she’s more like 52.3 – 52.4… Read more »

Emg1986
1 year ago

I’ve got a gut feeling that Haughey might surprise us here.

Robbos
1 year ago

So you putting money on Chalmers, I will be.

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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