We come to the last preliminary session of the 2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES, which will feature the men’s and women’s 50 freestyle, the women’s 800 freestyle, and the men’s and women’s 4×100 medley relay.
Caleb Dressel will be in the hunt for his next Olympic gold medal in the 50 freestyle, adding to his victory in the 100 freestyle. Dressel broke the Olympic record in the 100 freestyle final with a 47.02. Although he couldn’t break Cesar Cielo’s elusive 2009 world record in the 100 freestyle (46.91), he has another chance to make history, as Cielo posted a 20.91 WR in the 50 freestyle. Between the preliminary and final heats of the 50 freestyle, Dressel will have a chance to win a second medal in the 100 butterfly, in which he is listed as the top seed.
Dressel was chased by several men in both heats, and we’ll see if anyone can deny him a chance at a third title in Tokyo. Behind Dressel are Russia’s Vlad Morozov with a score of 21.27, Brazil’s Bruno Fratus and Britain’s Ben Proud.
Two-time Olympic champion Florent Manaudu will also fight for a return to the podium, as will 2021 European champion Ari-Pekka Liukkonen of Finland, Dressel’s American teammate Michael Andrew and Greek Christian Gkolomeev.
On the women’s side, Emma McKeown will attempt a feat similar to Dressel’s: She will try to win gold in the 50 freestyle after placing first in the 100. She won the 100 freestyle against an elite field that included teammate Kate Campbell. Campbell won Olympic silver in that distance with a 52.27 versus McKeown’s 51.96, but she will try to win gold for herself. Campbell won Olympic bronze in the 50 freestyle in 2008 and didn’t make the podium again until her Tokyo 100.
McKeon or Campbell won’t be the only ones fighting for gold in the 50 freestyle, however, because we have two other Olympic women’s 50 freestyle champions. Ranomi Cromoviggio took gold in this event in 2012, and she was succeeded four years later by Pernille Blume, who took the podium. Both will be competing here as the 4th and 6th seeds, respectively. Although they will need to move up in the rankings to make the podium, both have the experience and skills needed to win.
Simone Manuel and Sarah Sjostrom will also be competing, and both will be looking to redeem themselves. Manuel will make her Tokyo debut in the 50 individual event after she was not allowed to compete in the 100 freestyle at the US Trials. She won world championship gold in that event in 2019 and will likely arrive at the world championships in good spirits. Sjostrom, on the other hand, has already competed in the 100 freestyle and fly in Tokyo, but failed to make the podium in both events as she continues to suffer the effects of a broken elbow suffered earlier this year. Perhaps the 50 will be short enough to hold on to the course and finally make it to the Olympic podium in Tokyo 2020.
Also competing will be Polish veteran Kasia Wasik, who is returning from retirement, Russian Olympic Committee sprinter Maria Kameneva, Michelle Coleman of Sweden, American Abby Weitzeil and 200 butterfly champion Zhang Yufei.
The longest event of the session will be the men’s 1,500 freestyle, in which Gregorio Paltrinieri will try to repeat his 2016 gold result. Paltrinieri is the top seed in the men’s distance with a 14:33.10, Florian Wellbrock is second with a 14:36.45 and Mikhail Romanchuk is third with a 14:37.63. The top three places represent a podium finish at the 2019 World Championships, where Wellbrock and Romanchuk posted respective starting times, winning gold and silver medals, respectively. Paltrinieri posted a time of 14:38.75 and was the bronze medalist.
The top three men have a decent lead with Henrik Christiansen in fourth place with a time of 14:45.35. Behind him is Bobby Finke of the USA with a time of 14:46.06 (5th place), but he shouldn’t be discarded just yet after his dominating performance in Tokyo 2020. Rounding out the top eight are Britain’s Daniel Jervis with 1:46.51, Denmark’s Alexander Norgaard with 14:47.75 and Jan Mikka with 14:48.52.
The final two events of the preliminary session will be the men’s and women’s 4×100 medley swimming. The 2016 Olympic champions and 2019 women’s world champions, USA, will try to form the best lineup to compete against the competition. In the men’s event, Great Britain won the last gold medal at the 2019 World Championships, but the U.S. will retaliate to defend its 2016 crown.