Despite versatility giving rise to many potential creative constructions of the women’s 400 medley relay, the Americans have decided to play it safe and will stick with the runners-up in each individual race from the Olympic Trials in the morning heat. That means Rachel Bootsma, Breeja Larson, Claire Donahue, and Jessica Hardy will swim the early heats and jockey for position, before a likely whole-sale change in finals.
This relay is arguably still the best in the world, as all but Bootsma made the Olympic finals in their respective events, and certainly should have no trouble getting a number-one or number-two seed out of prelims.
There’s still some question about who the Americans will go with in the final. Missy Franklin was both the American champion in the 100 back, and is the United States’ best 100 freestyler through two rounds of the individual event. The best estimate is that Franklin will swim backstroke, with either Allison Schmitt or Hardy again to anchor the medley.