Tokyo Relay Speculations: Are King & Efimova Off Their Medley Relays?


Day 3 Finals Recap

Last night’s finals session featured a plethora of historical finishes and upsets, but the action doesn’t stop in the individual events. Looking ahead in the Olympic program, there still are the men’s and women’s 800 free relays, the mixed medley relay, and the men’s and women’s 400 medley relays.

While most of the time each country’s designated swimmers remain on their relays, there is always the chance a mid-meet swimmer swap could occur. Most recently, Simone Manuel was placed on the USA’s finals 400 free relay despite only having qualified in the 50 free individually.

On day three, the the men’s 200 free final was contested, where Brits Tom Dean and Duncan Scott finished 1-2 as Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer took the bronze. Tonight will be the men’s 800 free relay, which you can read more about here.

The women’s 200 free semifinals saw defending Olympic champion Katie Ledecky of the USA advance to the final while USA veteran Allison Schmitt placed 10th. While Schmitt will likely be on the finals 800 free relay, there is always the scenario a relay member could be replaced on the finals relay with another swimmer. Rewinding back to Rio 2016, Missy Franklin, who placed second at U.S. Trials in the event, had an underwhelming meet and wound up being replaced on the finals relay. Franklin was replaced by IMer Maya DiRado, who had only swum freestyle during her IM races.

Qualifying into the women’s 200 IM final for the USA are NCAA teammates Kate Douglass and Alex Walsh, with Douglass closing her 50 free in a 30.78 after taking the first 50 fly out in a 27.17. When building the case for DiRado, she had both the closing 100 free from the 400 IM and the closing 50 free in the 200 IM as markers for how she could do with her 200 free leg. On a different note, Douglass only has the final 50 free in her 200 IM to flex any potential persuasions to be on the 800 free relay, but that would be if anything out-of-the-ordinary occurred.

Other 200 free finalists who would shake up their 800 free relay roster from the 200 IM final include Brits Abbie Wood and Alicia Wilson along with the likes of Japanese Yui Ohashi and Canadian BR/IMer Sydeny Pickrem.

On the backstroke side of things, Russians Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov toppled American Ryan Murphy in the men’s 100 back final. Then, Aussie Kaylee McKeown took gold in the women’s final ahead of teammate Emily Seebohm with USA’s Regan Smith taking bronze ahead of teammate Rhyan White. Most backstroke positions should be locked in at this point for most nations barring anything unusual happening.

After both Americans Michael Andrew and Andrew Wilson missed the podium in the 100 breast final, 200 breast swimmer Nic Fink has the potential to build his own case to go on a medley relay if his swims are exceptional. Yet the real head-scratcher is who will swim the breast leg for the American and Russian medley relays following the women’s 100 breast final results?

For reference, here was last night’s women’s 100 breast top 8 finish:

  1. GOLD: Lydia Jacoby (USA), 1:04.95
  2. SILVER: Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA), 1:05.22
  3. BRONZE: Lilly King (USA), 1:05.54
  4. Evgeniia Chikunova (ROC), 1:05.90
  5. Yuliya Efimova (ROC), 1:06.02
  6. Sophie Hansson (SWE), 1:06.07
  7. Martina Carraro (ITA), 1:06.19
  8. Mona McSharry (IRL), 1:06.94

Teenager Lydia Jacoby defeated defending Olympic champion Lilly King in the 100 breast final, 1:04.95 to 1:05.54. At the same time, ROC teen Evgeniia Chikunova touched out veteran teammate Yuliya Efimova by 0.12s for fourth place, 1:05.90 to 1:06.02. Since Jacoby and Chikunova had the top finals placement, they should go on the finals medley relay, right? Not quite yet.

While Jacoby won the final, her 1:04.95 is a fresh lifetime best whereas King is 1:04.13-capable from a flat start. In the same manner, Efimova has been on numerous finals medley relays versus the rising Chikunova. Comparing the four swimmers’ 100 breast swims throughout all three rounds in Tokyo, King and Efimova both were faster than their younger teammates only during the semifinals. Looking at the closing 50 splits, Jacoby and Chikunova had the two fastest closing splits of the entire field across all three rounds during the final at 34.21 and 34.28 respectively.

King’s fastest closing 50 was 34.70, which came from her fastest Tokyo swim of 1:05.40 from semifinals. Meanwhile, Efimova’s fastest closing 50 was during the final at 34.76, which was still a half-second from Chikunova’s closing effort.

Prelims Semifinals Final
Chikunova (ROC) 1:06.16 (34.53) 1:06.47 (34.83) 1:05.90 (34.28)
Efimova (ROC) 1:06.29 (35.21) 1:06.34 (34.78) 1:06.02 (34.76)
Prelims Semifinals Final
Jacoby (USA) 1:05.52 (34.53) 1:05.72 (34.48) 1:04.95 (34.21)
King (USA) 1:05.55 (34.81) 1:05.40 (34.70) 1:05.54 (34.83)

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1 month ago

I would like to see the USA women Medley relay include ONLY women UNDER age 20. These women will surely be the core of the USA team at the 2024 Olympics, and it would be a nice send off to the future of women swimming. The USA also has some really wonderful UNDER 20 swimmers!

Little Mermaid
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

The landscape will look very different 4 years from now! I think we just witnessed this during the Olympic trials! And another note, I think more athletes are going to start utilizing psychological coaching for being rated number 1 with so much pressure for them and what is expected of them by the media! (Simonex2) We learned a lot during the last 5 years, hopefully for the better!

He said what?
Reply to  Little Mermaid
1 month ago

Three years from now.

Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

It would be a better send-off to the future of women’s swimming to assemble the fastest women in the US of all ages to compete for a medal … oh wait

Reply to  Alo
1 month ago

The Fastest Women in ALL BUT the Freestyle are UNDER 20! There are several VERY fast freestylers under 20. We have some excellent Under 20 IM freestylers. Don’t think the total time would suffer!

1 month ago

Boy I hope so!

1 month ago

You guys do not really think there is a question about who will swim the 100 breast for the women? It is Jacoby.

Reply to  usaswimerror
1 month ago

Jacoby in Final, King in prelim, same way it’s been done in the US every 4 years.

Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

I’ll vote yes. At least for King, she’s never done much better than her flat start time on relays at major international meets, and she just did three consecutive 1:05’s. Give the Alaskan Assassin a shot. She’s got momentum going for her, nerves of steel, and precedent going for her. Lilly was so busy slapping her thigh and trying to get eye contact with the South African, that she forgot to swim fast.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

I understand if she just hugged Lydia congratulating her with the win. But no she came demonstrating her approval of the win by raising Jacoby’s hand up. It was awkward. The last thing that was on Lydia’s mind at this moment, I think, to state arrogantly (in King’s) manner that she is #1.

Jonny Newsom
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

I hate to agree with ‘Ol Longhorn, for obvious reasons. But with this one I’m giving him the elusive and rare upvote.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Jonny Newsom
1 month ago

It’s a slippery slope. A gateway drug. Be careful, son.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

Lily wasn’t thinking about thigh slapping, just the announcers were concentrating on such bilge.

1 month ago

If I’m the USA coaching staff, King goes on prelims. I’d leave the door open for her to swim her way onto the final relay, but it’d have to be something absurd like a 1:03 split to make me swim anyone but the gold medalist in finals.

1 month ago

I’d like to see what Jacoby can do. Given King has been typically slower than her individual time on her relay split, the teenager may be the way to go

1 month ago

King better be off. She never performed great on relays anyways. And if we go in a bit behind from backstroke, Lydia will run everyone down on that last 50.

1 month ago

The best indicator of that to happen wil be if Mrs (Mr) Smith-King-Huske-Manuel changes the name to let say S-J-H-W.
😀 😀

Reply to  Yozhik
1 month ago

Didn’t Weitzel outsplit Manuel the first night?

Reply to  Ghost
1 month ago

Yes she did

Last edited 1 month ago by Miguel

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro started swimming at age 11, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing. After joining SwimSwam, the site has become an outlet for him to research and learn about competitive swimming and experience the sport through a new lenses. He graduated in …

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