Tokyo Olympic Predictions: When the seventh day of finals at the Tokyo Olympics begins, one of the highlights will be the 100-meter butterfly, where American Caleb Dressel will chase his world record of 49.50 and try to compete against Hungarian star Kristof Milak. In addition, Katie Ledecky of the United States will compete for her third consecutive 800 freestyle title. Here’s who Swimming World has selected for medals on day seven of competition.
Editor’s note: Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time (such as New York City) and 16 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time (such as Los Angeles). This year, the Olympic finals (and semifinals) will be held in Tokyo in the morning and the preliminary heats in the evening. So if the final session starts at 10:30 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Saturday morning, July 31, it will be 9:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 p.m. PDT) on Friday night, July 30.
Day 7 finals.
Saturday, July 31.
(10:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Japan Standard Time).
Men’s 100 butterfly.
World record: Caleb Dressel, USA – Gwangju 7-26-19 – 49.50
2016 Olympic champion: Joseph Schuling, Singapore – 50.39
When Caleb Dressel steps up to the pads in the 100 butterfly final in Tokyo, he is expected to compete against the clock, not the field. The American enters the Games with five of the six fastest times in history, and is expected to be in the neighborhood of 49. The two-time defending world champion posted a speed of 49.76 at the U.S. Trials.
If anyone can intimidate Dressel, it’s Hungarian ace Kristof Milak, who is the overwhelming favorite for Olympic gold in the 200 butterfly. Milak is the European champion in the 100 and 200 fly, he has not had any results in the shorter distances, but he needs to improve his performance significantly to get into Dressel’s range of interest.
Among the bronze medal contenders are Russia’s Andrey Minakov, the 2019 World Championships silver medalist, and South African veteran Chad le Clos. Australian Matt Temple set a Commonwealth record of 50.45 at the Trials in Australia, but repeating that result in the short term may not be easy.
Gold: Caleb Dressel, USA
Silver: Cristof Milak, Hungary
Bronze: Andrey Minakov, Russia
Women’s 200 backstroke
World record: Regan Smith, USA – Gwangju 7-26-19 – 2:03.35
2016 Olympic Champion: Maya DiRado, USA – 2:05.99
Prepare to hear this wonderful reality many times over: The world record holder in the women’s 200 backstroke is in Tokyo but not competing. It was a shock at the U.S. Olympics when Regan Smith came in third behind Ryan White and Phoebe Bacon. Although Smith’s best time is more than two and a half seconds better than what it took to win gold in Rio, she won’t be in the pool to chase it.
Only Smith has covered the distance in 2:04. In the past two years, only she and Kaylie McKeown have surpassed the 2:05.5 mark. That shifts the favorite’s target directly to the Australian, who is going to Tokyo with a recent world record in the 100 backstroke.
Kylie Masse has performed well in the Canadian trials, training in this country has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic more than in other countries. Both American women will struggle, as will Italian Margherita Panziera after a strong spring. Veteran Emily Seebohm should not be discounted either.
Gold: Kayleigh McKeown, Australia
Silver: Kylie Mass, Canada
Bronze: Ryan White, USA.
Women’s 800 freestyle
World record and 2016 Olympic champion: Katie Ledecky, USA – Rio de Janeiro 8-12-16 – 8:04.79
Katie Ledecky set the world record at the last Olympic Games in the 800 freestyle and easily won her heat at the U.S. Olympic trials. If Ledecky can beat everyone in Tokyo, it will be her third consecutive title in the event, and Ledecky will become the fourth swimmer to win the same event at three consecutive Games.
Ledecky, who has the best time in the world this year at 8:14.62, will again be the favorite, but Italy’s Simona Quadarella is a threat and others are standing in her way. Australia’s Ariarna Titmus and Kia Melverton have the second and third best times in the world this year, 8:15.57 and 8:19.05, while Quadarella (8:20.23) and 15-year-old American novice Katie Grimes (8:20.36) are close behind.
Gold: Katie Ledecky, USA
Silver: Ariarna Titmus, Australia
Bronze: Simone Quadarella, Italy.
Mixed 400 medley relay
World record: China (Xu Jiayu, Yan Zibei, Zhang Yufei, Yang Junxuan) – Qingdao 10-1-20 – 3:38.41
2016 Olympic Champion: Olympic Debut.
After debuting at the 2015 World Championships, the mixed 4×100 medley relay makes its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Olympics. What makes this race so exciting are the strategies involved in determining which two legs the women will swim and which two the men will swim.
On paper, the three World Cup 2019 medalists look the favorites: Australia (gold), the United States (silver) and Great Britain (bronze), as all three teams have at least one world record holder. But Team USA has three (Ryan Murphy, Lilly King and Caleb Dressel). Great Britain boasts one (Adam Petey) and Australia has one (Kaylie McKeown).
The world record for the sport belongs to China, but they will need a perfect race to compete against the three 2019 World Cup medalists.
Silver: Great Britain