Tokyo Olympic Predictions: In Day Two, Adam Peaty is Slam-Dunk Choice in 100 Breaststroke

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Tokyo Olympic Predictions: In Day Two, Adam Peaty is Slam-Dunk Choice in 100 Breaststroke

Now that the Tokyo Olympics are here, it’s time to see who might win medals in the 35 swimming events—three more than in 2016, with the debut of the women’s 1500 freestyle, men’s 800 freestyle and the mixed 4×100 medley relay. Here is Swimming World’s Day Two analysis, which was picked before the meet started.

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 Monday morning, July 26, that would be 9:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 p.m. PDT) on Sunday evening, July 25.

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Day Two Finals

Monday, July 26
(10:30 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. Japan Standard Time)

Women’s 100 Butterfly

World Record and 2016 Olympic Champion: Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden—Rio de Janeiro (8-7-16) – 55.48

No 100 fly final has ever seen multiple women break the 56-second barrier, but expect a scorching fast race in Tokyo. Three swimmers have already been under 56 this year: USA’s Torri Huske, China’s Zhang Yufei and Australia’s Emma McKeon—all who have a realistic shot to reach the podium.

Huske was extremely impressive at the U.S. Olympic Trials, swimming a 55.66 to finish less than .20 off the world record. Zhang has burst onto the scene with 55-second swims in late 2020 and in the spring of 2021, and McKeon has been a consistent podium presence in the 100 fly at the last two World Championships.

Olympic Swimming Trials-19june2021Photo Scott Grant

Maggie MacNeil; Photo Courtesy: Scott Grant/Swimming Canada

But the pick here is Maggie MacNeil, ranked fourth in the world at 56.14, but less than two years removed from stunning the world by upsetting Sarah Sjostrom to win the 2019 world title. MacNeil did not have to swim at her best to qualify for Canada’s Olympic team, so expect a huge Tokyo performance, particularly after she produced the fastest time ever in the 100-yard fly in capturing the NCAA championship earlier this year.

Sjostrom, meanwhile, is the defending champion and world-record holder, but after fracturing her elbow earlier this year, she is a question mark. Her season-best time is a 57.65, so she faces an uphill battle to get on the podium.

Predictions

Gold: Maggie MacNeil, Canada
Silver: Torri Huske, USA
Bronze: Zhang Yufei, China

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

World Record: Adam Peaty, Great Britain – Gwangju 7-21-19 – 56.88
2016 Olympic Champion: Adam Peaty, Great Britain – 57.13

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

If Great Britain’s Adam Peaty does what Adam Peaty usually does, everyone else is swimming for silver. The British star isn’t just aiming for a gold medal. He’s swimming to solidify his place as possibly the greatest men’s breaststroker in history. Double Olympic gold would just about do it, given his pedigree.

Beyond Peaty, there are plenty of challengers in the 58-range. Michael Andrew was outstanding at the U.S. Olympic Trials, but will have a busier schedule in Tokyo than most breaststrokers. Dutchman Arno Kamminga is the only other man to be sub-58, and will be joined by another European, Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi, in the chase for the podium.

Predictions

Gold: Adam Peaty, Great Britain
Silver: Michael Andrew, USA
Bronze: Arno Kamminga, Netherlands

Women’s 400 Freestyle

World Record and 2016 Olympic Champion: Katie Ledecky, USA – Rio de Janeiro (8-7-16) – 3:56.46

TITMUS

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia

Barring a surprising development, the battle for Olympic gold will be a two-woman duel between American Katie Ledecky, the reigning champ, and Australian upstart Ariarne Titmus. When the women clashed at the 2019 World Championships, Titmus upset Ledecky, who was dealing with a stomach virus that left her in less-than-optimal form. At the Australian Olympic Trials, Titmus scared the world record with a mark of 3:56.90. Ledecky was only 4:01.27 at the U.S. Trials, but a big drop is expected in Tokyo.

China’s Li Bingjie has been 4:02 this year and will challenge for the podium, along with Italy’s Simona Quadarella. Although stronger in the 800 freestyle and 1500 freestyle, Quadarella cannot be discounted over eight laps.

An interesting storyline is Canada’s Summer McIntosh, a 14-year-old phenom who was 4:05-low in May and is on a huge improvement curve. The youngster, with range from the 200 distance through the 1500, has the potential to drop even more time and enter the mix for the bronze medal.

Predictions

Gold: Katie Ledecky, USA
Silver: Ariarne Titmus, Australia
Bronze: Summer McIntosh, Canada

Men’s 400 Freestyle Relay

World Record: United States (Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones, Jason Lezak) – Beijing (8-11-08) – 3:08.24
2016 Olympic Champion: United States (Caeleb Dressel, Michael Phelps, Ryan Held, Nathan Adrian) – 3:09.92

One cannot mention the men’s 4×100 free relay at the Olympics without first mentioning the United States, winner of nine of the 12 gold medals in this event at the Games—the last coming in 2016.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

This Olympiad, however, Team USA is without the leadership of Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian, and will need to rely on 24-year-old Caeleb Dressel to lead the team to a gold medal this time around. Behind Dressel is Olympic rookie Zach Apple, who has been known to step up on relays, along with two-time Olympian Blake Pieroni, and rising upstart Brooks Curry.

On paper, Russia looks to be the team to beat with world No. 2 Kliment Kolesnikov (47.31) and Olympic rookies Andrei Minakov and Vladislav Grinev, who both reached the podium individually at the 2019 Worlds with Minakov garnering silver in the 100 fly and Grinev bronze in the 100 free. Add in three-time Olympian Vladimir Morozov, and Russia’s speedy quarter is faster than the United States with flat-start times added up.

Dressel and Apple are relay stalwarts, but how much of an edge can they gain on the Russians, who were right behind them at the 2019 Worlds? And behind those two nations, the bronze looks to be up for grabs among six other countries. Australia, Hungary and Brazil have all reached the podium since the U.S. won in Rio, but who will lock up the bronze in Tokyo? Our pick is Italy, which is led by Alessandro Miressi (47.45) and Thomas Ceccon (48.14) with several others in the mid-48 range.

Predictions

Gold: United States
Silver: Russia
Bronze: Italy

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