Tokyo Olympic Predictions: Day Four Calls For Kristof Milak Dominance in 200 Butterfly

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Tokyo Olympic Predictions: Day Four Calls For Kristof Milak Dominance in 200 Butterfly

The fourth day of the Olympic Games will feature an anticipated duel between Australia’s Ariarne Titmus and American Katie Ledecky in the 200-meter freestyle, along with the first men’s 200 butterfly without Michael Phelps since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Here are Swimming World’s predictions for the Day Four finals. All picks were made prior to the start of competition.

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 Wednesday morning, July 28, that would be 9:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 p.m. PDT) on Tuesday evening, July 27.

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Day Four Finals

Wednesday, July 28
(10:30 a.m. – 1:05 p.m. Japan Standard Time)

Women’s 200 Freestyle

World Record: Federica Pellegrini, Italy – Rome 7-29-09 – 1:52.98
2016 Olympic Champion: Katie Ledecky, USA – 1:53.73

The last three Olympic champs in the women’s 200 free will be facing off against one another in Tokyo: Italy’s Federica Pellegrini (2008), plus the USA’s Allison Schmitt (2012) and Katie Ledecky (2016), will be in the race.

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Pellegrini has won the last two world titles in the women’s 200 free and has proven to be one of the best game managers – always finding a way to perfectly pace this race to come out on top. But Pellegrini hasn’t reached the Olympic podium since winning in Beijing, finishing fifth in London and fourth in Rio.

But this year’s favorite looks to be Australia’s Ariarne Titmus, who came close to breaking Pellegrini’s world record at the Australian Trials with a 1:53.09 Commonwealth record and is nearly a second-and-a-half faster than the rest of the world in 2021. This will likely be her second of three battles with Ledecky, and perhaps her best chance at winning gold.

Also posing a medal threat is Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey, who has a shot at becoming her country’s first Olympic medalist.

Predictions

Gold: Ariarne Titmus, Australia
Silver: Siobhan Haughey, Hong Kong
Bronze: Katie Ledecky, USA

Men’s 200 Butterfly

World Record: Kristof Milak, Hungary – Gwangju 7-24-19 – 1:50.73
2016 Olympic Champion: Michael Phelps, USA – 1:53.36

Hungary’s Kristof Milak set the world record in the 200 butterfly at the 2019 World Championships. He is a full three seconds faster than anyone in the world this year, just a few tenths off of his world-record performance. So the only question, really, is how fast can he go…and how much (or if) the pandemic year has affected his training heading into Tokyo.

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu/ISL

The bigger mystery of this event seems to be how the rest of the field will shake out, considering the fastest times of the next five swimmers are within a half-a-second of each other. Italy’s Federico Burdisso, Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi, Bulgaria’s Antani Ivanov, Japan’s Tomoru Honda (who has home-pool advantage) and Taipei’s Eddie Wang all are in the 1:54-range this year, while Germany’s David Thomasberger and USA’s Zach Harting are close behind.

Meanwhile, veterans James Guy of Great Britain and Daiya Seto of Japan are just off the pace, and Chad le Clos of South Africa is always looming, making this event one of the most competitive – even if the gold medal seems to be locked up.

Predictions

Gold: Kristof Milak, Hungary
Silver: Tomoru Honda, Japan
Bronze: Federico Burdisso, Italy

Women’s 200 Individual Medley

World Record: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – Kazan 8-3-15 – 2:06.12
2016 Olympic Champion: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – 2:06.58

One of the biggest uncertainties of the meet will be Katinka Hosszu, the reigning Olympic champion and four-time defending world champion in both the 200 and 400 IM. Earlier this year, Hosszu won gold in the 400 IM at the European Championships, but settled for silver in the 200 fly and bronze in the 200 IM. But as recently as 2019, she swam a 2:07.53 at the World Championships, quicker than any other active swimmer. Perhaps by late July, Hosszu will be close enough to top form to claim a medal, but she will have a large pack of challengers in close pursuit.

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Kaylee McKeown; Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Australia’s Kaylee McKeown has been one of the most impressive swimmers across many events this year, and she leads the world rankings in the medley at 2:08.19. But McKeown just announced that she will skip the event in Tokyo. The only other swimmer under 2:09 this year who will be at the Olympics is the USA’s Alex Walsh, who swam a 2:08.87 at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Canada’s Sydney Pickrem likely has another 2:08 in the tank after winning bronze at the 2019 Worlds and swimming a 2:09.24 earlier this year, while Great Britain’s Abbie Wood has been as quick as 2:09.23. Japan’s duo of Yui Ohashi and Miho Teramura should also be in the mix.

Predictions

Gold: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary
Silver: Sydney Pickrem, Canada
Bronze: Alex Walsh, United States

Women’s 1500 Freestyle

World Record: Katie Ledecky, USA – Indianapolis 5-16-18 – 15:20.48
2016 Olympic Champion: Olympic debut

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Katie Ledecky has six of the top seven times in history. She went an easy-as-you-like 15:40 at the recent Olympic Trials. In a world where only two women have ever cracked 15:45 in the 1500, Ledecky has already visited the benthic depths beneath 15:30.

Ledecky is the prohibitive favorite, as she is just about any time the American steps up to the blocks. Although reigning world champion Simona Quadarella has been 15:40, the Italian was just 15:48 in June. Australian Maddy Gough and China’s Wang Jianjiahe have both gone 15:46 in the last year. Spiced by the history of being the first women’s 1500 in Olympic history, the proposition is the same as ever: Bet against Ledecky at your own peril.

Predictions

Gold: Katie Ledecky, USA
Silver: Simona Quadarella, Italy
Bronze: Maddy Gough, Australia

Men’s 800 Freestyle Relay

World Record: United States (Michael Phelps, Ricky Berens, David Walters, Ryan Lochte) – Rome 7-31-09 – 6:58.55
2016 Olympic Champion: United States (Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas, Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps) 7:00.66

The United States has won the past four editions of this event, but it will not enter Tokyo as the favorite for the first time since 2004, when the Stars and Stripes upended Australia. The U.S. was third at the 2019 World Championships and does not feature a hammer, although Kieran Smith has significant upside. The potential of the United States might come down to whether the coaching staff utilizes Caeleb Dressel, and what the sprint star can deliver.

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Great Britain is a threat for gold, helped greatly by the presence of a pair of sub-1:45 performers in Duncan Scott and Tom Dean. Matt Richards and James Guy are the other likely legs who round out a team with a superb combination of power and depth. Meanwhile, Russia is well-balanced and headlined by Martin Malyutin.

Australia, the reigning world champion, will turn to a lineup that will feature Alexander Graham and Kyle Chalmers, with Elijah Winnington and Thomas Neill also at the disposal of the coaches. Italy has the ability to play podium spoiler.

Predictions

Gold: Great Britain
Silver: Australia
Bronze: United States

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