Tokyo Relay Splits: China Breaks WR; Ledecky’s 1:53.7 Eclipses AUS for Silver

2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games

Women’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay

China stunned Australia, the top seed and runaway favorite in the women’s 4×200 free relay, from the opening bell. Yang Junxuan led off with the fastest first leg of 1:54.37, holding off Australia’s Ariarne Titmus (1:54.51), who a day earlier had won the gold medal in the 200 free with 1:53.50, breaking the Olympic Record that had been set by USA’s Allison Schmitt with her gold-medal performance (1:53.61) in 2012.

Titmus’ leadoff was the second-fastest, however, and kept Australia in the game with China. 14-year-old Summer McIntosh from Canada swam a very quick 1:55.74 leadoff, putting her team about .6 in front of the United States. The Americans opened with Schmitt (1:56.34) whose leadoff was about 1.7 seconds faster than the next wave of swimmers.

Lead-off Splits

Swimmer Country Split
Yang Junxuan China 1:54.37
Ariarne Titmus Australia 1:54.51
Summer McIntosh Canada 1:55.74
Allison Schmitt United States 1:56.34
Charlotte Bonnet France 1:58.08
Anna Egorova Russian Olympic Committee 1:58.22
Isabel Gose Germany 1:58.30
Zsuzsanna Jakabos Hungary 1:58.61

After their 1:54 leadoff, China produced three 1:55s. Tang Muhan (1:55.00) and Zhang Yufei (1:55.66), just an hour after winning the 200 fly gold medal in Olympic Record-breaking fashion, kept China out front through 600 meters. Li Bingjie finished in 1:55.30, the fifth-fastest time of the flying-start legs.

Katie Ledecky of the United States, who did not medal in the 200 free final on Wednesday morning, unleashed a monster 1:53.76 on the end of the American relay to power past Australia and secure the silver medal. Paige Madden (1:55.25) and Katie McLaughlin (1:55.38) also cranked out top-10 splits.

Canada’s Penny Oleksiak anchored with 1:55.14, the second-fastest final leg, after Ledecky. Australia’s Leah Neale came home on 1:55.85.

Flying Splits

Swimmer Position Country Split
Katie Ledecky 4 United States 1:53.76
Tang Muhan 2 China 1:55.00
Penny Oleksiak 4 Canada 1:55.14
Paige Madden 2 United States 1:55.25
Li Bingjie 4 China 1:55.30
Emma McKeon 2 Australia 1:55.31
Katie McLaughlin 3 United States 1:55.38
Madison Wilson 3 Australia 1:55.62
Zhang Yufei 3 China 1:55.66
Leah Neale 4 Australia 1:55.85
Kayla Sanchez 3 Canada 1:56.59
Rebecca Smith 2 Canada 1:57.30
Anastasia Guzhenkova 4 Russian Olympic Committee 1:57.45
Annika Bruhn 4 Germany 1:57.71
Ajna Kesely 3 HUN 1:58.14
Veronika Andrusenko 3 Russian Olympic Committee 1:58.17
Valeriia Salamatina 2 Russian Olympic Committee 1:58.31
Marie Pietruschka 3 Germany 1:58.36
Assia Touati 2 France 1:58.82
Leonie Marlen Kullmann 2 Germany 1:59.19
Laura Veres 2 HUN 1:59.71
Boglarka Kapas 4 HUN 2:00.16
Margaux Fabre 4 France 2:00.39
Lucile Tessariol 3 France 2:00.86


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1 month ago

Is there a better combo than Katie McLaughlin and the 4×200 freestyle relay? Girl always pulls through!

Paige Madden great job after 400 PB early on. And McIntosh!! Almost missed that amidst Junxuan holding off Titmus but fantastic job too, even if Canada didn’t quite make medals.

1 month ago

If only Schmitty had swum a faster leg, hmmmm!!

Reply to  Gifty
1 month ago

After all the hand wringing prior to the race?

1 month ago

For the author: HUN = Hungary.

1 month ago

Congratulations, China. But Katie: can you say inspiring? After two 1500s, and running down the leaders, her last 5-10 meters were towering.

1 month ago

1:55.59 Sanchez

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
1 month ago

Swimming multiple races back to back takes its toll.

McKeon was off after swimming the 100 free semi final. The relay monster Oleksiak was also off her individual time, again after the 100 free semi.

Li Bingjie failed to progress from the 200 free heats with a 1:59, after winning bronze in the 400 earlier in the day, and in the same session missed the final in the 1500. But then with some more rest drops a 1:55 here.

Yang pulled out of the individual 100 to focus on this relay, and it payed off massively. Ditto Kayla Sanchez.

Similar story in the men’s 4×2. Three of GB’s four swimmers (Guy, Richards, Scott) sacrificed individual events… Read more »

1 month ago

The accrued fatigue for Ledecky and immediate fatigue for Zhang makes those the stand out splits for me.

The sheer guts of Zhang to take that 200 fly out at a WR pace that will always break you before you break it, knowing she had a 200 free an hour later. Incredible.

M d e
1 month ago

Lucky a swimmer that did what would have been faster than all but 2 flying starts last night (from a flat start) was watching.

Reply to  M d e
1 month ago

We ( the Aussies on here)l saw it straight away, as soon as the heat sheets were released. Not sure how we knew it was playing with fire, but the coaches didn’t.

M d e
Reply to  Samesame
1 month ago


Hadn’t considered the possibility Titmus and McKeon would both have bad swims.

If they had bad swims and we lost with our strong team it would suck but that happens.

We deliberately left about a second out of the pool, then lost by 0.96

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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