Tokyo Day 4 Prelims Preview: Sprint Showdown in Men’s 100 Free

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

It is Tuesday evening in Tokyo and the 4th prelims session of the 2020 Olympics will kick off with Caeleb Dressel‘s first individual event of the meet: the 100 freestyle.

He led off Team USA’s winning 4×100 free relay on day 2 but today will be his first solo swim. Dressel’s lifetime best time of 46.96 from the 2019 World Championships is just .05 off the World Record in this event, set by Cesar Cielo in 2009.

Dressel will have to answer to 2nd seed and defending Olympic Champion Kyle Chalmers of Australia, though, whose best time since Rio is a 47.08 also from 2019. Other contenders include Kliment Kolesnikov of the Russian Olympic Committee, who is fresh off his silver medal win in the 100 back earlier on Tuesday, and Italy’s Alessandro Miressi.

And keep an eye out for Romanian 16-year-old David Popovici who was the fastest man in the world in this event before Dressel’s relay lead-off split two days ago. Popovici crushed the World Junior Record with a 47.30 at the recent European Junior Championships.

If he makes it to the podium, Popovici would win Romania’s first Olympic medal since 2004.

In the women’s 200 fly, China’s Zhang Yufei leads the charge after winning silver in the 100 fly on day 2. Only Zhang and USA’s Hali Flickinger have broken 2:06.00 in this event this season.

USA’s Regan Smith, fresh off a bronze medal win in the 100 back earlier on Tuesday, is another contender in this event as is 2019 World Champion Boglarka Kapas of Hungary.

There are only 17 entries in the women’s 200 fly, meaning nearly everyone will make it to semifinals so there is very little pressure on the top seeds to swim fast in this race.

The 3rd event of the session will be the men’s 200 breast, led by top seed Anton Chupkov of the Russian Olympic Committee. Chupkov set the World Record in this event at 2:06.12 during the 2019 World Championships and won bronze in this event at the Rio Olympics.

Besides Chupkov, it is a relatively new field that leads this event. Defending Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan will be racing but he hasn’t been at the top of the 200 breast field for a while now (his fastest time since Rio is a 2:08.16)  and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Josh Prenot did not make the U.S. Olympic team.

The Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga and Japan’s Shoma Sato are some of the top contenders in this race alongside Australia’s duo of Zac Stubblety-Cook and Matthew Wilson. Kamminga won silver in the 100 breast final on day 2 while Stubblety-Cook is the fastest in the world this season with a time of 2:06.28 from June.

After  Tom Dean and Duncan Scott won gold and bronze, respectively, in the 200 free final earlier on Tuesday, Great Britain is set up to be lethal in the men’s 4×200 free relay. The start lists for this event have not been made public yet, but Great Britain also has the likes of Matt Richards and James Guy on their side.

While Australia did not have any 200 free finalists, they won this event at the 2019 World Championships and are also one of the favorites in this event with Chalmers, Alexander Graham, and Mack Horton who were on the 2019 World Championships relay.

Day 4 marks the first time the men’s 800 free will be contested on an Olympic stage and top seed Gregorio Paltrinieri, the defending World Champion, and  Gabriele Detti of Italy leads the field.

Detti won bronze in the 1500 free at the 2016 Olympics and Paltrinieri is the only swimmer to have broken 7:40.00 in the event. France’s David Aubry, who won bronze at the 2019 World Championships, will also be a strong competition to make the final alongside Norway’s Henrik Christiansen, who won silver at that same meet.

Watch out for Tunisian freestyle Ahmed Hafnaoui who won gold in the 400 free on day 1 out of lane 8 with a strong finish. His lifetime best time of 7:45.54 is fresh, from June,  and he won the 400 with a lifetime best time of 3:43.46. 18-year-old Hafnaoui will be in heat 4 of the 800 free.

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Togger
1 month ago

Wonder if they’ll swim Dean on the lead off of the heats? It’s his only event and he must be absolutely buzzing, give him a crack at 1.43 with clean water

Dressel will come 3rd in 100 free
Reply to  Togger
1 month ago

While that would be a great sight, I’d prefer he saves any mega splits for the final. As others have suggested, it’s probably better if they put him on anchor (if they use him) so that he can either coast it home or surge on the last 100 if needed to get GB through.

Togger

Yeah, completely up to him whether he feels up to it as he can coast the anchor and we’ll be fine.

Just think sometimes the confidence carries people through and be a shame for him to miss the chance if thinks he can (PVDH the stand out one when he won the 200 one night, then broke the world record in the 100 free semis the next night despite a reaction time that gave him a moment to appreciate the surroundings).

Fraser Thorpe
1 month ago

Aus is 2:0 in the 3 big head to heads with the US (w400 free, w 100 bk, m100 free) feel like law of averages gives dressel the edge. But Dressel and Chalmers Both swam great in the relay. Expecting fireworks – if it’s half as good as 2019 I’ll be happy.

(NB w200 & 800 free favour titmus and Ledecky respectively, Smith not in 200bk, w100 fly had more players, so it’s the 3 above that were the #1 vs #2 in a coin flip)

Last edited 1 month ago by Fraser Thorpe
TheSwimCritic
1 month ago

If Dressell can match 46.94 in the 100m free then it will go down as his best swim ever. Better than his 17.63 in the 50yd free, better than 39.90 in the 100yd free, better than 49.50 in the 100m fly