Olympics: Women’s 800 Free Relay Finals Lineups Released; Titmus Leading off, McKeon and Ledecky to Anchor

Titmus, Olympics
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Olympics: Women’s 800 Free Relay Finals Lineups Released; Titmus Leading off, McKeon and Ledecky to Anchor

The lineups have been released for the women’s 800 freestyle relay final at the Olympics, and top-seeded Australia is introducing an entirely new foursome from their group that posted the top time in prelims. 200 free and 400 free Olympic gold medalist Ariarne Titmus will lead off for the Aussies, followed by consistent Australian relay force Emma McKeon swimming second. McKeon has been part of almost every Australian women’s relay (across different events) at major meets since 2013. Madison Wilson, a finalist in the individual 200 free, will swim third, and Leah Neale, a returnee from the 2016 silver-medal winning relay along with McKeon, will anchor.

Notably, Australia will not use Mollie O’Callaghan, even after she led off in a very impressive 1:55.21 in prelims. Still, this Australian group is favored to win Olympic gold for the second time in this event after previously topping the podium in 2008.

The United States has won gold at the last two Olympics, and the group of Allison SchmittPaige MaddenKatie McLaughlin and Katie Ledecky. Ledecky finished a surprising fifth in the 200 free Wednesday morning before capturing the inaugural Olympic gold in the women’s 1500 free, while Schmitt missed the final in the event. Madden and McLaughlin are returning after posting quick swims during the second-place prelims relay Wednesday evening.

Canada brings on 200 free Olympic silver medalist Penny Oleksiak to anchor and 14-year-old Summer McIntosh, who finished fourth in the 400 free earlier in the week, to lead off, and also joining the group is Kayla Sanchez, who scratched the 100 free semifinals to focus on this relay. Rebecca Smith returns from prelims as Canada pursues its second straight Olympic medal in this event, possibly an upgrade from bronze in 2016.

Chinese 200 free fourth-place finisher Yang Junxuan will lead off for China, followed by Tang MuhanZhang Yufei and Li Bingjie. China is likely the only country that can spoil an expected battle for silver between Canada and the U.S., and Zhang will compete on this relay after the individual 200 butterfly final earlier in the evening.