Who is Henning Müehlleitner? Meet the Top Seed in the Men’s 400 Free Final

This morning, many swim fans watching the men’s 400 freestyle in Tokyo were left with one residual question: Who is Henning Muehlleitner?

The 23-year-old took the top seed in the event going into finals, swimming a time of 3:43.67 to annihilate his personal best of 3:45.36. With his swim, he beat the likes of Felix Auboeck, Gabriele Detti, and Elijah Winnington, putting himself in the position to make the podium at the Olympic Games. 

Müehlleitner, originally from Emmemdigen, Germany, currently trains with One Flow Aquatics in Neckarsulm. The Tokyo Olympics are Müehlleitner’s first major International Competition besides the European Championships, where he represented Germany in 2015 and 2018. 

At the 2018 European Championships, Müehlleitner earned an individual bronze medal in the 400 freestyle, along with a relay gold medal in the 4×200 freestyle relay. 

Over the past year, Müehlleitner has exploded in the 400, slowly becoming one of his country’s top prospects. Prior to April 2021, Müehlleitner’s personal best in the 400 freestyle stood at a 3:46.98 from 2018. He then lowered it to a 3:45.55 at the Eindhoven Qualifying Meet in April, before going a 3:45.36 at the German Olympic Qualification Competition a week later. Since then, however, Müehlleitner has obliterated that standard. 

Split Comparison: 

2020 Olympic Games Prelims – July 2021 German Olympic Trials – April 2021 Eindhoven Qualification Meet – April 2021 Stockholm Open Swim – April 2018
50m 26.71 26.71 27.12 26.9
100m 54.86 55.13 55.15 55.77
200m 1:52.02 1:53.24 1:52.08 1:54.29
300m 2:48.08 2:50.06 2:48.78 2:51.01
400m 3:43.67 3:45.36 3:45.55 3:46.98

Müehlleitner has dramatically improved the front half of his race since 2018, coming into the 200 mark over 2 seconds faster than he previously did. By extending that time by another half second, Müehlleitner was able to swim almost 2 seconds faster at the Olympics than he did last April. 

Müehlleitner almost didn’t even qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games, having placed 3rd overall at the German Olympic Trials meet. However, he was added to the team when trials winner Florian Wellbrock elected to drop the 400 freestyle to focus on the longer freestyle events. Clearly, Müehlleitner is making the most of his opportunity to compete, being the only German in the final after coming into the event seeded 12th. 


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Texas Tap Water
2 years ago

Who’s his coach?

Reply to  Texas Tap Water
2 years ago

Matt Magee coaches in Neckarsulm

2 years ago

Looks like he’s a late bloomer and is hitting his peak in his early 20’s. But is anyone else concerned about the significant improvement in times since 2018? Just askin’.

Reply to  SwimPhan
2 years ago

Why would we be concerned about an athlete improving? Might as well just say you think he’s doping, are you concerned about dressel? Milak? They’ve improved a lot since 2018 too

Reply to  SwimPhan
2 years ago

Not really. A fast 20 year old became a fast 23 year old. Not at all unusual, especially for a male. Also pretty sure his improvement looks more abrupt than it actually is. It’s not like he had many chances in 2020 to show off his time drops.

Reply to  SwimPhan
2 years ago

SwimPhan is simultaneously obsessed with Jeremy Kipp and thinks that swimmers who drop time between ages 20 and 23 are doping.

We have evidence that Jeremy Kipp assaulted an athlete, and SwimPhan thinks he’s innocent. We have no evidence that this kid is doping, and SwimPhan thinks he’s guilty.

What a time to be alive.

Reply to  SwimPhan
2 years ago

He switched training groups and it payed off. It happens.

2 years ago
2 years ago

Being in the top 16, he was listed in the SwimSwam media guide.

2 years ago

The question every swimming fan in the world has been asking for the past 12 hours..

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
2 years ago

Hopefully, commentator Mike Tirico can tell us what his birthdate is.

Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
2 years ago

I love Mike. Not to over the top like Ambrose

2 years ago

I could be mistaken, but I think he is the son of Mr and Mrs Muehlleitner

Gen D
2 years ago

Thank you for this article 🙏🏼 🙏🏼

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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