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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Sub13
2 months ago

Despite the fact that this post literally analyses Cate Campbell in Rio, why do I feel like this comment section will be full of “BUT REMEMBER CATE CAMPBELL IN RIO!?!?”

Happy to Oblige
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

But remember Cate Campbell in Rio?!?

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Happy to Oblige
2 months ago

Not just Rio either.

frug
Reply to  Happy to Oblige
2 months ago

What, did something happen?

Khachaturian
Reply to  frug
2 months ago

yeah, people were swimming

Robbos
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

I think Campbell had Over Training Sysdrome in RIO.

frug
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

BUT REMEMBER CATE CAMPBELL IN GOLD COAST!?!?… is that better?

SHG
Reply to  frug
2 months ago

You mean where she won Gold in the 50 metre freestyle 23.78, Gold in the 50 metre butterfly, Gold as a member of the 4×100 relay which broke the World Record and Silver in the 100 Freestyle. Is that what you are talking about?

frug
Reply to  SHG
2 months ago

I was being sarcastic. It was an overall excellent meet for her even if she came up short in the 100 fr.

kevin
Reply to  frug
2 months ago

Pick on somebody else Frug ok Your so called attempt at sarcasm illustrates low IQ

Rafael
2 months ago

Zhang yufei wont swim the 100 free?

Margalis Stan
Reply to  Rafael
2 months ago

She’s only swimming the 50 free and the two butterfly events.

Sub13
Reply to  Rafael
2 months ago

She didn’t swim it in trials. She swam the heat to qualify for the relay, but never planned on swimming the individual because she wanted to concentrate on fly

AnEn
Reply to  Rafael
2 months ago

That is what i heard from a chinese user. Her schedule will be super packed as is. Best case:
3 x 50 free, 3 x 100 fly, 3 x 200 fly, 1-2 x 400 free relay, 1-2 800 free relay, 1-2 x medley relay, 1-2 x mixed medley relay
Up to 17 swims, realistically probably 12 – 13 swims (2-3 x 50 free, 3 x 100 fly, 3 x 200 fly, 1 x 400 free relay, 1 x 800 free relay, 1 x medley relay, 1 x mixed medley relay).

Last edited 2 months ago by AnEn
Jack
2 months ago

At least 1 of the brits will final i’d put my house on it. Anderson has been as fast mid season this year as she was when she finalled at worlds 2019.

Alex Dragovich
Reply to  Jack
2 months ago

You could definitely make a strong case for both of them. I don’t think the characterization of this field as “fairly narrow” is on point. It’s pretty stacked even if it doesn’t look how many thought it would going into 2021.

AnEn
Reply to  Jack
2 months ago

I think Anderson will make it (comfortably). Hopkin could also make it, but i would favor at least 10 women over her.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Jack
2 months ago

I’m wondering do you own your house. I don’t want to take over mortage payments for winning the bet. 🙂

Alex Dragovich
2 months ago

Given Haughey’s improvement trajectory and most recent results, in combination with the recent developments for Sjostrom and Manuel, I don’t see a strong justification for putting Haughey behind anyone but McKeon and Campbell. Her medal chances are at least right on par with Oleksiak’s and Sjostrom’s now. 7th is a big underestimation.

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Alex Dragovich
2 months ago

Disagree. Oleksiak is clearly ahead of Haughey. She’s 4 tenths ahead now and she can obviously perform on the big stage.

Jamie5678
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 months ago

I think there’s a mistake in the article’s stats. Haughey went 52.92 in June.

Alex Dragovich
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 months ago

Haughey just went 52.92 last month and has done PR after PR in this Olympic Cycle, including on the big stage at 2019 Worlds. A “clear” Oleksiak advantage isn’t apparent to me.

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
Reply to  Alex Dragovich
2 months ago

I was not aware of that 52.92, thanks! Nevertheless I still give slight advantage to Oleksiak.
(lots of errors in these preview articles, ugh.)

Last edited 2 months ago by SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
Alex Dragovich
Reply to  SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
2 months ago

Regardless of who gets the medals I picture it being one of the best events of Tokyo like it was in Rio. The semis are going to be intense.

Torchbearer
Reply to  Alex Dragovich
2 months ago

Yes, a few swimmers are going to be left in the semis unexpectedly I imagine!

Casas 100 back gold in Fukuoka
2 months ago

I think Oleksiak and Haughey will finish higher than 4th and 7th. Heemskerk will be ahead of Kromo. Anderson might make the final.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Casas 100 back gold in Fukuoka
2 months ago

Agree, they have a great chance at the podium.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Casas 100 back gold in Fukuoka
2 months ago

Haughey is being underestimated in the 100 and 200

Troyy
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

And Weitzeil overestimated.

Margalis Stan
2 months ago

My prediction: Emma, Cate, Sarah, Siobhan, Penny, Abbey, Femke, Freya Anderson

Jason Cirone
Reply to  Margalis Stan
2 months ago

on form, i’d have to agree with that top 4.

Boomer
2 months ago

Haughey at 7th and Weitzeil at 5th? Nah, Haughey could contend for a medal and I don’t see Weitzeil in the final.

Miguel
Reply to  Boomer
2 months ago

Agree, I totally would not be surprised if no American will be in the final.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Miguel
2 months ago
Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Boomer
2 months ago

It’s disingenious to post an individual’s personal best time and not the time posted in the final of women’s 100 meter freestyle at the respective Olympic Team Trials.

Dee
2 months ago

It’s not at all unlikely that both Brits miss out on the final, but I’d be disappointed if one doesn’t make it. Anna Hopkin was 53.49 at Trials, 53.43 at Euros and 53.56 in Glasgow last month so probably looks more likely to make it.

1. McKeon
2. Oleksiak
3. Campbell

Robbos
Reply to  Dee
2 months ago

It’s coming home Dee!!!!

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

Cate Campbell will rebound like Harry Kane

Robbos
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

I can see Campbell’s extra time winner via penalty miss to be the 50 free instead of the 100 free, the event she won Bronze in 2008 & gold in 2021.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

England sang the same theme at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Dee
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
2 months ago

We’ve sung it at every tournament since 1996, the song is a national institution, you’ll never meet an Englishman who doesn’t know it word for word!

Dee
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

Haha! Keeping my fingers crossed for Emma and England 🤞🏻

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, where she is an active …

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