USA Men’s 400 Medley Relay Breaks World Record to Keep Olympic Streak Alive

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

MEN’S 4×100 MEDLEY RELAY – FINAL

  • World Record: USA (Peirsol, Shanteau, Phelps, Walters) – 3:27.28 (2009)
  • Olympic Record: USA (Murphy, Miller, Phelps, Adrian) – 3:27.95 (2016)
  • World Junior Record: Russia (Zuev, Gerasimenko, Minakov, Shchegolev) – 3:33.19 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: USA (Murphy, Miller, Phelps, Adrian) – 3:27.95
  • SwimSwam Event Preview – Men’s 4×100 medley relay
  1. United States, 3:26.78 WR
  2. Great Britain, 3:27.51 ER
  3. Italy, 3:29.17
  4. ROC, 3:29.22
  5. Australia, 3:29.60
  6. Japan, 3:29.91 AS
  7. Canada, 3:32.42

The final pool event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics did not disappoint, as the United States fought a fierce battle out of lane 1 against Great Britain. There was more on the line for the U.S. in this race than just a Gold medal. For USA Swimming, the men’s 4×100 medley relay is a matter of tradition and legacy.

The Americans have never lost an Olympic men’s 4×100 medley relay. There was one time in the history of the Olympics that the USA didn’t win the event, and that was the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow. The reason the US didn’t win that year is because they weren’t there due to an American Boycott of those Games.

After a scare in prelims in which the US squad narrowly advanced, they bounced back in tremendous fashion, breaking the World Record, which was a super-suited WR featuring Michael Phelps. The US coaching staff also had a difficult decision to make pertaining to the breaststroke leg on this relay. Michael Andrew was the clear choice going into this meet, but some slightly off performances as the meet went on, coupled with the fact that he was also racing the 50 free final tonight cast doubt on whether to call on him. Andrew Wilson wasn’t in the same form we saw from him at U.S. Trials, and posted a 59.09 in prelims of this relay. There was also the option of Nic Fink, who swam exceptionally well in the 200 breast here in Tokyo.

Ultimately, it appears going with Michael Andrew was the right decision for Team USA. Andrew split a 58.49 for his squad, which is a time that seems highly unlikely Wilson or Fink would have been able to match. Andrew’s leg was pivotal for the Americans, as Great Britain’s Adam Peaty was at the top of his game, splitting 56.53.

The name of the game for the US going up against Great Britain in medley relays is capitalizing on Great Britain’s slight lack of strength in sprint backstroke, and minimizing the devastating impact of Peaty’s breaststroke dominance. Beyond the 200m mark, things look good for the Americans, who have Caeleb Dressel, the fastest butterflier in history, and Zach Apple, who can match the best in World on freestyle relay splits.

Things played out as well as the US could have possibly hoped for. Ryan Murphy got the team out to a 1.32-second lead over Great Britain, then Michael Andrew managed to split within 2 seconds of Peaty. Diving in 0.64 seconds behind James Guy, Dressel’s job was simple, and he still overperformed. The phenom posted the fastest fly split in history – 49.03, to hand Apple a 0.60-second lead over Duncan Scott. Apple made the most out of his clean water, clocking a blistering 46.95 to bring it home under the World Record.

Here is a split comparison between the US’ swim tonight, and the previous World Record from 2009:

Split Tokyo 2020 Final 2009 World Champs Finals
Backstroke Ryan Murphy – 52.31 Aaron Piersol – 52.19
Breaststroke Michael Andrew – 58.49 Eric Shanteau – 58.57
Butterfly Caeleb Dressel – 49.03 Michael Phelps – 49.72
Freestyle Zach Apple – 46.95 David Walters – 46.80
Final Time 3:26.78 3:27.28

Incredibly, the biggest difference between this relay and the former World Record relay was Dressel’s improvement over Michael Phelps.

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Drake
1 month ago

MA stepping up when the US needs him. the 🐐

I_said_it
Reply to  Drake
1 month ago

You’re definition of “The G.O.A.T” and mine vastly differ

Stewie
Reply to  I_said_it
1 month ago

You can’t expect his mom to be objective.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stewie
flygirl21
Reply to  Drake
1 month ago

I bet a goat could come home in 29 seconds

pvdh
1 month ago

lol imagine the reason a world record is broken is because Phelp’s split is the one that gets destroyed

Cate
Reply to  pvdh
1 month ago

3 of the 4 legs of the 2020 relay were faster than in 2009. Only Aaron Piersols leg was faster than Ryan Murphy.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Cate
1 month ago

walters 46.80
apple 46.95

Pvdh
Reply to  Cate
1 month ago

Are you blind or do you not know what numbers mean?

Jack
1 month ago

“DuRdEn MaDe A HuGe MiStAkE wItH pUtTiNg AnDrEw”

Yes, the coaching staff made a big oof with the mixed 4×1, but we have to give them credit for getting this one right, and ending off the games on a high note!

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Jack
1 month ago

There were no other defensible options, swapping him for Fink was the only other thing and that could’ve blown up spectacularly. (If he’d split 0.74 slower than MA – 59.23+ – and GB had won that?? Dude would’ve been crucified, and probably rightfully so.)

Keeping MA on it was both the highest upside and the by-the-book pick, would’ve been mixed medley relay lineup level foolishness to mess with that. (That said, after MA’s 200 IM I thought something might have been physically wrong with him given how that race looked. An injured / sick MA is an entirely different story.)

Kudzai
1 month ago

Truly incredible swim… Dressel is just one heck of an athlete… Always crushing it when it matters most… 5 gold medals,,what a good number

Horninco
1 month ago

Greenbank was off this week in the 100, tough break because Peaty and Guy were devastatingly good. Without a wave to ride, Duncan Scott couldn’t make up the gap.

CY~
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

I’m just happy he’s pulled off his fastest 100back of the week

96Swim
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

Duncan Scott wasn’t that great either. He wasn’t bad, but 47.0 is kinda pedestrian for him. Can’t put it all on greenbank.

Mustangswimdad
1 month ago

History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes. Mark Spitz had a disappointing Olympics in 1968. I see Michael Andrew doing much better in 2024. He needs a Doc Counsilman to supplement Doc Rushall.

MarkB
Reply to  Mustangswimdad
1 month ago

Comparing MA to Spitz …

Philip Johnson
1 month ago

Swimming a relay from lane 1 is growing on me.

Cate
Reply to  Philip Johnson
1 month ago

Nathan Adrian seems to think it’s a good idea.

Ehhhish
1 month ago

For future reference for US coaches

Smith: 58.0
Andrew: 58.4
Dressel: 49.0
Weitzel: 52.4
3:37.8

That is all

Great swim from both teams tonight though. Great finish for the US!

Swammerstein
Reply to  Ehhhish
1 month ago

you probably could throw on smiths 57.6 from prelims of that relay too

PhillyMark
Reply to  Ehhhish
1 month ago

Looks like you over-analyzed it

swimmer'
Reply to  PhillyMark
1 month ago

LMAO. Let me look at it a few more times and make it three seconds slower.

SCCOACH
Reply to  Ehhhish
1 month ago

Hard to go with Andrew over Jacoby after Andrew’s 200 IM. He put the coaches in a tough spot.

Buster
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 month ago

His breast split was 32.1 in his IM …

PVSFree
Reply to  Buster
1 month ago

Can’t wait for the day when MA’s breast split is faster than his free split. This site will melt down

SCCOACH
Reply to  Buster
1 month ago

He choked at the end of his race and has choked in 100’s before. Untrustworthy

anonymous
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 month ago

His last 6 swims in the 100 breast have been 58’s. That is consistent.

Mike
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 month ago

Coaches lost the mixed relay, not the swimmers’ fault. In order to medal, Michael Andrew, Andrew Wilson or Nic Fink had to swim the breast leg.

Nobody

Tommy Schmitt
Reply to  Ehhhish
1 month ago

I am by no means an expert, but on a mixed medley relay, doesn’t it make sense to always put a guy on the breast leg, since it’s the stroke where swimmers are in the water for the longest ? Unless a team really lacks a good 100 breast guy (decently below a minute), I can’t see how putting a girl on breast would make a team faster.