Tokyo Rapid-Fire: Day 1 Swimming Headlines


Want to catch up on all of the Olympic swimming action in record time? We’ve got you covered, with our daily “Tokyo Rapid-Fire” featuring the day’s top swimming headlines.

Hafnaoui Stuns For Tunisian Gold

18-year-old Ahmed Hafnaoui has been a fast riser in the sport lately, but no one was predicting him as a gold medal contender in the 400 free. (Seriously, a total of zero people picked Hafnaoui to win a medal of any kind in the 400 free out of 900+ Pick ‘Em entries). The Tunisian had to drop a half-second from his lifetime-best just to scrape into the final in 8th place. He was 0.14 seconds from missing the final entirely, but shocked the field from lane 8 for gold in tonight’s most memorable finish.

Australia Smashes World Record

One major upset and one heavy favorite delivering. Australia’s 4×100 free relay obliterated the field and won gold, breaking their own world record in the process. A 3:29.69 took four tenths of a second off the world record for the first sub-3:30 swim in history. Emma McKeon swam the 100 fly semifinal earlier in the session but came back to split 51.35 on this relay, joining Bronte Campbell (53.01 leadoff), Meg Harris (53.09), and Cate Campbell (52.24) for the win.

U.S. Men Go 1-2 In 400 IM

In a tone-setter for the U.S. men, former University of Georgia teammates Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland went 1-2 in the 400 IM to sweep the top two medal spots. This is the first Olympics since 2000 without both Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the mix, but Kalisz and Litherland stepped up for the next generation in one of Phelps’ and Lochte’s signature events.

Overall, a slower session

While Australia’s women were the notable exception in that relay, tonight’s session was markedly slower in several events than previous Olympic finals, perhaps due to the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic on training and competition.

In the men’s 400 IM, Kalisz’s winning time would have been just third at the 2016 Olympics and the 2019 World Championships. Hafnaoui’s time would have won bronze in 2016 and wouldn’t have even medaled at 2019 Worlds. In the women’s 400 IM, Yui Ohashi‘s winning time (4:32.08) would have been just bronze in both 2016 and 2019.

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1 month ago

Disaster averted in the women’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay. Women and children emerge from the storm cellars.

1 month ago

“Australia choked again”

Reply to  Idc
1 month ago

Alright I’m done but you handed me this on a silver platter

Reply to  Idc
1 month ago

To give credit, the Australians do not choke in the women’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay.

1 month ago

Why is every write-up so far focused on putting an asterisk on these swimmers’ successes? It’s a different world. It was a lousy year. Let’s move on from this headline– it’s boring.

1 month ago

Feeling awful for Dressel. He’ll never be able to physically go as fast as he can this year ever again, but this morning finals schedule ensures that no swimmer will be at their fastest. Look how almost everyone slowed from heats to semis/finals. Even C1 didn’t put down her best split.

1 month ago

“perhaps due to the lingering effects of NBC forcing morning finals”

fixed that for ya…

Reply to  Oceanian
1 month ago

Didn’t seem to affect times in Beijing 2008. If anything, finals after a good night’s sleep might actually work in the swimmers’ favour.

Reply to  Ben
1 month ago

Beijing had some super suits. Plus Phelps was just out of this world.

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 …

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