Tokyo Olympic Predictions: Lilly King and Ryan Murphy Chosen to Defend in Day Three


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Tokyo Olympic Predictions: Lilly King and Ryan Murphy Chosen to Defend in Day Three

By the time the third day of Olympic Games competition rolls around, some questions will have been answered. Who is in top form? Which athletes are off? Are there any breakout performers? Here are Swimming World’s predictions for the third day of finals from Tokyo. Picks were made prior to the start of the Games.

Editor’s Note: Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time (e.g., New York) and 16 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time (e.g., Los Angeles). This year’s Olympic finals (and semifinals) will be swum at Tokyo in the morning, with prelims swum the previous evening. So, for a finals session beginning at 10:30 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Tuesday morning, July 27, that would be 9:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 p.m. PDT) on Monday evening, July 26.

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Day Three Finals

Tuesday, July 27
(10:30 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. Japan Standard Time)

Men’s 200 Freestyle

World Record: Paul Biedermann, Germany – Rome 7-28-09 – 1:42.00
2016 Olympic Champion: Sun Yang, China – 1:44.65

Since Yannick Agnel won gold in the men’s 200 free at the 2012 Olympics in 1:43.14, no swimmer has been within a second of that mark. Instead, the 200 free at each major meet has been a tightly-packed event with numerous lead changes. That should be no different in Tokyo, especially with defending gold medalist and world champion Sun Yang banned for an anti-doping violation.


Danas Rapsys; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The prediction here is Danas Rapsys, who touched first at the World Championships, but was disqualified for a false start. Rapsys has the fastest lifetime best of any active swimmer, and he is the sixth-fastest performer ever at 1:44.38.

So far in 2021, British swimmers Duncan Scott and Tom Dean lead the world rankings, with hometown favorite Katsuhiro Matsumoto of Japan, European champion Martin Malyutin of Russia and newcomer Hwang Sunwoo also having been under 1:45, with the USA’s Kieran Smith just behind. Any of these men could be in the mix for the medals in an unpredictable Olympic final.


Gold: Danas Rapsys, Lithuania
Silver: Duncan Scott, Great Britain
Bronze: Katsuhiro Matsumoto, Japan

Women’s 100 Backstroke

World Record: Kaylee McKeown, Australia – Adelaide, 6-13-21 – 57.45
2016 Olympic Champion: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – 58.45

kaylee mckeown

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia

An argument can be made that this event has seen the greatest improvement since the last Olympics, with a sub-58 clocking likely required for a place on the podium. Australia’s Kaylee McKeown is riding serious momentum into the Games, having set the world record of 57.45 at the Australian Trials. She’ll be pushed by American Regan Smith, who was the previous world record holder and clocked in at 57.92 at the U.S. Trials.

Canadian Kylie Masse, the reigning world champion, popped a mark of 57.70 at her Trials, and will be a factor in this deep event. Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Kathleen Dawson, the European champion, is on the cusp of going sub-58, while the Netherlands’ Kira Toussaint will look to ride her early speed to a medal.

The United States’ Rhyan White is tested and surging, having navigated a minefield at the U.S. Trials to earn a Tokyo berth. An eye also must be kept on Australian veteran Emily Seebohm, who is making her fourth Olympic appearance.


Gold: Kaylee McKeown, Australia
Silver: Regan Smith, USA
Bronze: Kylie Masse, Canada

Men’s 100 Backstroke

World Record: Ryan Murphy, USA – Rio de Janeiro 8-13-16 – 51.85
2016 Olympic Champion: Ryan Murphy, USA – 51.97


Ryan Murphy. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The contenders in the men’s 100 backstroke enter the Tokyo Games on the back of best times in 2021. The Russian duo of Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov each set season-best times in May. Ryan Murphy’s quickest time of this cycle came at Olympic Trials in June at 52.22.

That sets up a crowded race in the final. Xu Jiayu, the two-time reigning world champion, will be in the mix. Mitch Larkin is coming off a strong performance at Australian Trials. Ryosuke Irie will be carrying the hopes of the host nation, though the 200 back might be his stronger event. And a bumper crop of young, speedy Europeans isn’t far off the pace.

It could take a time under 53 seconds to even make the final, given the depth on offer (19 swimmers have been in the 52s in the last two years). The event has been the sole possession of American swimmers since 1996, with Murphy claiming the gold in 2016. Despite the speed from the rest of the world, Murphy has shown nothing to indicate his grip on the crown has loosened.


Gold: Ryan Murphy, USA
Silver: Evgeny Rylov, Russia
Bronze: Mitch Larkin, Australia

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

World Record: Lilly King, USA – Budapest 7-25-17 – 1:04.13
2016 Olympic Champion: Lilly King, USA – 1:04.93


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The 2016 edition of the 100 breaststroke was a showdown between Lilly King and Yulia Efimova of Russia. Efimova had tested positive for a banned substance and served a 16-month suspension for the violation. King, who has been outspoken about cleaning up the sport, focused that attention on her rival in Rio. King emerged victorious with the gold medal, and also became the figurehead for the clean-sport fight around the world with her no-nonsense approach to questions about the issue, not shying away from stirring the pot.

King will be the favorite going into the Games, while the rest of the field could have some interesting developments, especially with Alaskan teenager Lydia Jacoby, who has the second fastest time in the world this year after stunning Annie Lazor to snag the second spot at U.S. Trials. Sweden’s Sophie Hansson had a superb NCAA campaign for North Carolina State and is looking to star on the international stage.


Gold: Lilly King, USA
Silver: Sophie Hansson, Sweden
Bronze: Lydia Jacoby, USA

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