There are seven finals for the relay events in the Olympic program: Men and Women 4x100 and 4x200 Freestyle. For the 4x100 Medley Men, women and the brand new entry Mixed relay.
WOMEN'S RELAYS: USA v AUSTRALIA
In Rio 2016 it was 2-1 to the US. In Gwangju 2019 the Aussies turned the cards and won both free relays to leave only the medley for their arch-rivals. Canada came third in all three events and despite all the extraordinary times we witnessed ever since, the trend might not change significantly. Just like among the men, Lilly King’s breaststroke leg can be a determining factor in the medley relay – it’s yet to be seen if the Aussies can counterweight that in the other strokes, while they are very well set for the free double again, based on the series of sparkling swims in the spring Down Under.
While in Rio the US swept all three titles, in 2017 the Brits grabbed the 4x200m and two years later only the 4x100m free was left for the Americans – the Aussies won the 4x200m and the Brits took the medley.
And this time the Russians really have the depth to stun the Americans on the first day, the Aussies are well built too though Dressel’s magic can help the US in retaining its title. The 4x200m may also turn into a Russia v Australia duel, while the Brits had a brilliant medley quartet where Peaty usually gains 1.5-1.8sec on the biggest rivals over the breaststroke leg and that gives them the necessary edge for the second half of the race.
For the first time, a mixed event shall be contested at the Olympics and the debuting medley relay promises real thrills. At the Worlds, the US won in 2017 by a mile, the Aussies just out-touched them by 0.02sec in 2019 but the Brit’s new European record from this May was better than the winning time in Gwangju, indeed only 0.36sec shy of the US’ WR from 2017.
These three quartets will be very much in the hunt in Tokyo, it’s already a mind-blowing exercise to guess the line-ups but make sure you watch that race: you’ll see the crème de la crème of today’s swimming for sure!