2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
- Open Water swimming: Wednesday, August 4 – Thursday, August 5, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 7 PM / Semifinals & Finals: 10:30 AM (Local time)
- Full aquatics schedule
- SwimSwam Event Previews
- Entry Lists
- Live Results
- Day 4 Prelims Heat Sheets
- Day 4 Prelims Live Recap
- Prelims results with full splits
Great Britain didn’t make the same mistake in the 800 free relay as they did earlier in the 400 free relay and used their Olympic champion Tom Dean in the preliminary heat, advancing comfortably into the final as the top overall seed.
With the top 2 finishers in the individual event, the British team will feel confident going into the final, with the World Record likely a closer bet than a silver medal.
Below, check out the medal contenders for the upcoming final and what changes they might be able to make to run down the Brits, and for the Brits what changes they might be able to make to run down the World Record.
Great Britain (1st Seed)
|Great Britain Prelims||Substitutions|
|Matt Richards – 1:46.35||
Duncan Scott – 1:44.26
James Guy – 1:44.66
Calum Jarvis – 1:45.53
Tom Dean – 1:46.71
Prelims Time – 7:03.25
Great Britain was only 5th at the 2019 World Championships but have already grown to prohibitive favorites. The World Record to chase is 6:58.66. For starters, they’ll get 2 seconds for swapping in Duncan Scott in favor of Matt Richards or Callum Jarvis. Richards was faster on paper coming in, and dropped the 100 free to focus on this race, but Jarvis was better in the prelims. Then, they’ll expect another 2-3 seconds from Tom Dean going full speed (in heats he just coasted with qualification clear by the time he left the block). Guy’s swim is probably maxed out, but that adds up to about the four-and-a-half seconds they’ll need for the record.
As SwimSwam’s James Sutherland laid out on Twitter:
The British men have a legit shot to break the '09 super-suited world record of 6:58.55 in the 4×200 free relay
Tom Dean – 1:44.22 (200 FR final)
Duncan Scott – 1:44.26 (200 FR final)
James Guy – 1:44.66 (relay heat)
Calum Jarvis – 1:45.53 (relay heat)
— James Sutherland (@jimmy_hug3) July 27, 2021
Australia (2nd seed)
|Alexander Graham – 1:45.72||
Kyle Chalmers – 1:45.48
|Mack Horton – 1:47.51||
Thomas Neill – 1:45.70
|Elijah Winnington – 1:46.19|
|Zac Incerti – 1:45.58|
|Prelims Time – 7:05.00|
Australian coaches have a little bit of a decision to make here, but it appears straight-forward that Kyle Chalmers and Thomas Neill will join the team for finals. Barring a Chalmers breakout – entirely plausible given his 400 free relay split in his first appearance at this meet – Australia doesn’t have a 1:44 ace (let alone two) to keep up with the Brits, but their depth makes them a favorite for silver.
Chalmers taking Horton’s spot gets them 2.5 seconds, Neil taking the spot of (probably) Incerti gets them a few tenths, Alexander Graham has a half-a-second to give if he gets back to his best. So Australia is looking all day at around a 7:02.00.
With the Russian men continuing to struggle, unless the USA gambles and puts Dressel on the finals relay (and he does something really fast), that might already be good enough for silver.
Italy (3rd seed)
|Stefano di Cola – 1:47.00||
Stefano Ballo – 1:45.80
|Matteo Ciampi – 1:45.64|
|Marco de Tullio – 1:46.78|
|Filipo Megli – 1:45.63|
|Prelims Time – 7:05.05|
Italy has one serious change to make here, and that’s swapping in Stefano Ballo likely for Marco de Tullio. Matteo Ciampi would have been the odds-on to be dropped coming into the meet, but his split, a second-and-a-half better than his flat start best entering the meet, has earned him a spot in finals.
That change only gets Italy to a 7:04-low or 7:03-high, which won’t be enough to medal. They’ll need to find at least another second from the rest of their returning swimmers, and it’s not obvious that those seconds exist. Italy is probably fighting for 5th in the final, though a 1:45.80 for Ballo in the individual event earlier this week at least gives them a shot.
Russia (4th seed)
|Mikhail Dovgalyuk – 1:46.56||
Martin Malyutin – 1:44.79
|Aleksandr Krsanykh – 1:46.78||
Aleksander Shchegolev – 1:45.82
|Ivan Girev – 1:45.71|
|Mikhail Vekovishchev – 1:46.11|
|Prelims Time – 7:05.16|
Russia showed some signs of life in this 800 free relay in what has been a tough meet for their relays so far. Martin Malyutin, who was 5th in the individual 200 free final in 1:45.01, will come on, which should buy them a second-and-a-half at least off prelims. They’ll also bring on Aleksander Shchegolev – even though he wasn’t great on Russia’s prelims 400 free relay, he’s still probably a better option here than Dovgalyuk, who swam in prelims. That gets Russia down to a 7:03-low. The rest will have to come from a better swim by Girev, who has flat-started 1:45.4 this year.
United States (5th seed)
|Drew Kibler – 1:46.12||
Kieran Smith – 1:45.07
|Andrew Seliskar – 1:46.16||
Townley Haas – 1:45.66
|Patrick Callan – 1:47.12||
Zach Apple – 1:46.22
|Blake Pieroni – 1:46.21||
Caeleb Dressel – 1:46.63
|Prelims Time – 7:05.62|
We’ve seen the US coaches stay pretty conservative in their finals relay selections so far this meet, with the exception of Simone Manuel in the women’s 400 free relay (which wound up being a positive choice).
So do they go bold here?
Kieran Smith, who has raced well, will obviously join the relay in place of Patrick Callan, who did his part in prelims. Townely Haas will come on too – though it’s unclear who the US will drop. Andrew Seliskar had a fantastic 150 meters in prelims before falling apart on the final 50. By the “book” that the US has historically used, he’ll get the spot based on time – reaction time being a little faster than Pieroni.
But the bigger question is will either get a chance? Or Drew Kibler, who was the best split of the prelims relay on the leadoff leg? Caeleb Dressel swam 1:46.63 in prelims at the US Olympic Trials before scratching later rounds. Zach Apple has been 1:46.22 and was 5th at Trials.
It would be unusual for the US to leave a top 6 finisher off this relay altogether, so we have to assume Apple is on. Then the question becomes whether it’s Dressel or Kibler for the final spot. It’s hard to not picture Dressel being able to swim 1:45 on a flat-start, even if this event is not in his primary specialty and even after the 100 free semi-finals earlier in the session (Chalmers has the same for Australia).
So the best relay for Team USA for finals probably is a wholesale change: Dressel-Smith-Haas-Apple. That relay probably goes 7:01-mid and takes silver Will the coaches be bold enough to stick Dressel on that relay, or trust Kibler to fight with Australia for that spot? Based on the full-coast that Dressel had in prelims of the 100 free, it felt like maybe he was saving some energy for something, but we’ll find out this evening.
Well, NBC thinks so, at least:
This is not just any #TokyoOlympics schedule.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2021