Olympic Swimming Recap: Finals Day 1

This is a collaboration between Brittney Cabral and Krissy Drapper.

Men’s 400m Individual Medley

The men’s 400 individual medley saw no Canadians athletes competing but that does not mean that the event was anything but exciting. The United States’ swimming team saw two athletes competing for gold and landing on the podium. 27-year-old Chase Kalisz, in his first competition of the Games, won the 400-meter individual medley with a winning time of 4:09:42. This is his first-ever Olympic gold medal in his career. Kalisz competed in the 400m IM in Rio in 2016 and won silver, therefore, bettering his positioning at this Games. Chase Kalisz was joined by fellow American teammate Jay Litherland on the podium. Litherland finished second, winning the silver medal, with a time of 4:10:28. Litherland finished a tenth of a second before Brendon Smith of Australia who completed the podium. As the NBC Olympics Twitter account said, “gold and silver are better together.” The silver and gold medals that Kalisz and Litherland won were the first two medals for Team USA in Tokyo.

Men’s 400m Freestyle

The result of this event was the definition of Olympic magic. The Australians, Jack McLaughlin and Elijah Winnington, were favored to medal in this event. At the sound of the buzzer, Winnington took the lead into the first length and slowly started to fade toward the mid-part of the race. It seemed as though the Australians tagged each other midway through because when Winnington started to fade, McLaughlin took the lead in the race. But, not far behind was Ahmed Hafnaoui from Tunisia. He was racing in lane eight and only qualified in the finals by a tenth of a second. He was following closely behind McLaughlin but the last length of the race was when he started to take over. The eighteen year old managed to upset the field and take the gold medal. The other medals were won by Jack McLaughlin (silver) and Kieran Smith (bronze). Hafnaoui “literally” swam the race of his life by setting his personal best in the final. The post-race elation by both athlete and coach was very heartwarming. Ahmed Hafnaoui is the only Tunisian swimmer in the Olympics.

Women’s 400m Individual Medley

The women’s 400m individual medley saw the home country win a gold medal. Yui Ohashi of Japan touched the wall with a time of 4:32:08 to win the gold medal for Japan. Emma Weyant and Hall Flickinger of the United States finished out the podium winning silver and bronze. This gold-medal performance was more than just a medal for Ohashi. The 400m Individual relay national record holder has faced multiple setbacks in her career. In 2015, she was diagnosed with anemia, a condition that has greatly affected her performances while in the water. With the diagnosis coming a year before Rio 2016, Ohashi missed out on the Rio games and stated that as soon as she realized she would not being able to attend the 2016 Games, the 2020 Games were her new goal. Well, Ohashi met her goal and was well rewarded for her efforts with Japan’s second gold-medal of the Games.

Women’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay

The Australians were heavy favorites going into the final. The question was whether they would break the world record. The answer is: yes, they did. The other question was who would win the “real race”. As the final swimmer was entering the pool, the Swedes, Americans and Canadians were all fighting for that silver medal. The Canadians were in fourth when Penny Oleksiak (Toronto, ON) started her leg of the relay. She quickly got past Sophie Hansson of Sweden and was neck and neck with the American, Simone Manuel. Oleksiak managed to just out touch Manuel for the silver medal just as she did the Dutch in 2016. These women gave Canada their first medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

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