Tokyo Vision: Mack Horton Looks To Go Back-to-Back in 400 Freestyle

Mack Horton AUS, 400m Freestyle Final, 18th FINA World Swimming Championships 2019, 21 July 2019, Gwanju South Korea. Pic by Delly Carr/Swimming Australia. Pic credit requested and mandatory for free editorial usage. THANK YOU.
Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Tokyo Vision: Mack Horton Looks To Go Back-to-Back in 400 Freestyle

Had the COVID-19 pandemic not shaken the world, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo would be unfolding right now, titles and podium finishes earned by the finest athletes from around the world. Instead, we are in a competition lull and hopeful that the Games will be held next summer, with COVID-19 neutralized.

As we reach the nine days over which the swimming competition of a delayed Olympiad would have taken place, Swimming World is taking a glimpse at what might have unfolded this summer, had the Olympics not been postponed. Following the official schedule, we offer our virtual fields of eight finalists for each event and take a brief look at how the racing might have panned out until a few strokes away from decision and a result that will not be known until July/August 2021.

League of Olympic Legends: Ian Thorpe Tops 400 Free Podium With Rose & Salnikov

Event: Men’s 400m freestyle
World Record: Paul Biedermann (3:40.07) – 2009

Historical Note #1: Defending champion Australia’s Murray Rose and silver medallist from Melbourne in 1956 Japan’s Tsuyoshi Yamanaka had to contend with a new player in American Alan Somers who set a new Olympic record in the heats in Rome in 1960. But in the final it was a Rose-Yamanaka 1-2 finish again with Australian John Konrads taking bronze and Somers fifth. Rose set a new Olympic record of 4:18.3 with the exact same distance separating gold and silver in Rome as it did in Melbourne.

Historical Note #2: American heartthrob Buster Crabbe first appeared in the Olympics in Amsterdam in 1928 when he finished fourth behind Argentina’s Alberto Zorrilla in the 400m freestyle. But fast forward four years and Crabbe was the talk of the town when the Games came to Los Angeles, where not only an Olympic champion was born but also a Hollywood star. Crabbe came from behind to out-touch Frenchman Jean Taris by just one tenth of a second to snatch the gold medal. And he also attracted the attention of Hollywood producers who would later cast Crabbe, who would go on to great fame in acting roles as Tarzan, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. “That one-tenth of a second changed my life,” Crabbe later recalled. “It was then that the Hollywood producers discovered latent histrionic abilities in me.”

Virtual Vision

The Finalists (Listed Alphabetically)

  • Gabriele Detti – Italy
  • Marco De Tullio – Italy
  • Zane Grothe – USA
  • Mack Horton – Australia
  • Aleksandr Krasnykh – Russia
  • Jack McLoughlin – Australia
  • Danas Rapsys – Lithuania
  • Ji Xinjie – China

The Race

The absence of Sun Yang from this field opens the door for defending champion Mack Horton from Australia to go back-to-back for the first time since countryman Ian Thorpe in 2000 and 2004 and presents Russia’s Aleksandr Krasnykh a place in the top eight.

From the start it was obvious that Lithuanian Danas Rapsys was determined to use his speed to try and steal this race from the early stages, with Australia’s Jack McLoughlin looking to keep in touch, along with Horton. As the field approached the 100m mark it was actually McLoughlin from Rapsys and American Zane Grothe who were the early pace setters.

Horton looked to be making a move now and with the Italian boys Gabriele Detti and Marco de Tullio also possessing strong back ends, they looked to keep Horton in their sights.


MAKING A POINT: Can Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys become the first Lithuanian male to win Olympic swimming gold. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Rapsys, disqualified in the 200m at the last World Championships, started to break away and Horton, and McLoughlin and Detti looked to go with him.

With 100m to go Horton needed to produce his trademark finish, which helped him snatch gold from Sun in Rio. Rapsys was trying to hold on and become Lithuania’s first male Olympic swimming champion.

Off the final turn, Rapsys remained in front, but this one would go right down to wire, with the Australian boys Horton and McLoughlin, along with Detti, looking to stay in the hunt for the podium.

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3 years ago

Winnington will likely get the spot instead of McLaughlin.

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